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GOADBY v. PHILADELPHIA ELEC.

October 2, 1980

Albert T. GOADBY
v.
PHILADELPHIA ELECTRIC et al.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: NEWCOMER

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Findings of Fact

 Plaintiff Albert T. Goadby is the owner of certain premises located at R.D. # 1 in Pennsburg, Upper Hanover Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Plaintiff resides in a house on that property. He first purchased two parcels of his present property in 1957. He purchased a third parcel in 1963. This third parcel of land is located in Upper Hanover Township. Mr. Goadby has occupied his property since 1957, at first in a mobile home, and since then he has worked, with intermittant periods of delay, on his house. In the Spring of 1971, plaintiff was approached by employees of Philadelphia Electric Company who told him that a 500,000 volt electric transmission line was being planned, and that the path of the line would cross his property. Plaintiff at that point expressed his objection to the condemnation of his property. Plaintiff moved into his new house in December of 1979.

 Plaintiff's land consists of 3.04 acres of woodland intersected by an existing Pennsylvania Power and Light 230,000 volt transmission line. Plaintiff acquired his land subject to an easement granted by his predecessor in title to the Pennsylvania Power and Light Company for the purpose of operating said 230 kilovolt transmission line.

 1. Plaintiff testified that he has been shocked by currents in his mobile home and in the garage of his house. Plaintiff testified that Philadelphia Electric inspectors visited his property and that their conclusion was that his electrical systems were not properly grounded. The Court finds the testimony inconclusive on this point.

 2. Defendant, Philadelphia Electric Company (PECO) is a public utility corporation in part regulated by co-defendant, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC). PECO's board of directors resolved on December 26, 1973 to appropriate a 150 foot-wide right-of-way across plaintiff's land for the purposes of suspending a 500 kilovolt transmission line. The proposed right-of-way would run parallel and adjacent to the existing Pennsylvania Power and Light transmission line on the side away from plaintiff's house. (Exs. P-1 and P-17).

 3. PECO considers the line necessary for two reasons: to provide cheaper coal-generated electricity to the Eastern regions of the power grid served by PECO, and to minimize the risk of power failures by increasing the capacity within the power system for the exchange of emergency supplies with other systems. Plaintiff's Chief Systems Design Engineer testified that the cost to PECO of delaying construction of the Elroy-Hosensack line after October 15 will be approximately $ 350,000 per week for the first month of delay and $ 275,000 per week in each successive month thereafter.

 4. On April 2, 1979, PECO's application for a Certificate of Public Convenience was heard before an examiner of the PUC. Plaintiff testified at that hearing and was represented by counsel. At that hearing, plaintiff cross-examined defendant PECO's chief system planning engineer, Emil Kasum, and PECO's supervising engineer in the Transmission Project Branch of the Transmission and Distribution Engineering Section, Harry E. Gerhart. No testimony was heard concerning the safety of the proposed line, other than testimony about the height of the transmission lines. (P-2).

 5. On or about April 4, 1979, PECO responded to interrogatories issued by Franconia Township, which opposed the line, regarding the proposed Elroy-Hosensack power line. Answers to these interrogatories contained summaries of calculations estimating the strength of an electro-magnetic field generated by a 500 kilovolt transmission line and a 230 kilovolt line located parallel to one another. Interrogatory 8 inquired, "What biological changes, if any, will be induced in a person exposed to the electric field of the proposed 500 kv transmission line?" PECO's answer was that it knew of no instances of such effects. PECO cited a Department of Energy study relating to a 500 kilovolt line in Minnesota that concluded that "there was no convincing demonstration of dangerous biological effects from low level electrical fields." (D-PE-12 at p. 10). Interrogatory 10 asked about biological changes that would be induced by exposure to a magnetic field of the anticipated strength. PECO responded by stating that it had no experience with any such effects, and that in hearings relating to a proposed 765 kilovolt line in New York, an administrative law judge concluded "that exposure to the magnetic fields of lines would not be hazardous." PECO cited as its source material, an Opinion of the New York Public Service Commission. PECO also stated that its own experience formed the basis for its assertion that it had "no knowledge of any biological consequences or claims of same, attributable to transmission line radiation." (Ex. D-PE-12, at p. 13). These answers were received by the PUC on April 6, 1979.

 7. On November 2, 1979, administrative law judge Farber issued an Initial Decision Granting Approval and Authorization to Locate a 500 KV Electric Transmission Line (Elroy-Hosensack). In that Opinion, Judge Farber found that "Both the ground level electric field and the magnetic flux density of the line, using the most extreme theoretical conditions, are well below threshold danger levels." (Ex. D-PE-11 at p. 5 and p. 9). Administrative law judge Farber found that an electromagnetic field reaching a strength of 7.49 Kv per meter was "within acceptable limits." (Ex. D-PE-11 at p. 9).

 8. On December 21, 1979, at a public meeting held in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the Public Utility Commission adopted the decision of administrative law judge Farber and granted PECO's application to site, build, and operate the Elroy-Hosensack Line. The Order was entered January 16, 1980.

 9. On May 13, 1980, plaintiff filed suit in Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, alleging that PECO had acted in violation of Pennsylvania law. Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction was denied and plaintiff's complaint was dismissed.

 10. Plaintiff's application for supersedeas was denied in a Memorandum Opinion of Judge Blatt of the Commonwealth Court filed June 23, 1980. Judge Blatt found that plaintiff had failed to show that the harm that would result from PECO's construction of the ...


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