Judge OKs power line upgrade through Penn Hills club property
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Longue Vue Club in Penn Hills has valid concerns about its view being affected by a project to upgrade power lines, but those concerns are outweighed by Duquesne Light's need to deliver reliable electricity to its customers, an Allegheny County judge ruled.
In a decision issued Wednesday, Common Pleas Judge Christine A. Ward said Duquesne Light has the right to access the easements it has held on Longue Vue property since 1949 and perform the upgrades it deems necessary on its power transmission lines.
"Through testimony and evidence, Duquesne Light has demonstrated that Longue Vue, by preventing Duquesne Light from updating its electric transmission system, is creating a substantial risk that the electric system will overload, and that Duquesne Light customers will lose power," Judge Ward wrote.
The electric company, which has easements along the 7.8-mile stretch of lines between East Liberty and Plum, has said it is upgrading from a 69,000-volt line to a 345,000-volt line to ensure that customers in the area do not lose power during peak summer operating times. Part of that work requires replacing 80-foot poles with 150-foot poles.
The company began notifying affected properties, including Longue Vue, in 2009 and in February 2011 received approval for the project from the state Public Utility Commission.
Longue Vue, which was founded in 1920 and boasts views from above the Allegheny River from Penn Hills, protested installation of three of the 67 poles that will be used to carry the new lines, saying that they would negatively affect the view from its grounds. In addition to golf on the grounds, the club's main building is rented for events such as weddings and banquets.
Employees with the club have prevented Duquesne Light contractors from working on their property. The power company filed for preliminary injunction against Longue Vue on March 27.
In her decision, Judge Ward acknowledged that at least one of the new poles will affect the vista from the Pink Terrace outdoor dining area at Longue Vue, but said the view "will still be breathtaking."
The Duquesne Light upgrade will have a "substantial effect" on the club's view, said Kenneth J. Yarsky, the attorney representing Longue Vue. He said the club is in the process of evaluating the decision and deciding on a response.
Duquesne Light plans to perform its upgrade work on Longue Vue property "as soon as we can," company spokesman Joseph Vallarian said.
"We are obviously pleased with [Wednesday's] decision, which allows us to continue improving our electrical system and keep our customers connected to a safe and reliable source of electricity," he said.
The upgraded line should be completed by late fall, he said.
First Published June 14, 2012 12:00 am