In a 5-2 en banc opinion issued December 22, the Commonwealth Court flatly rejected the notion that a utility must prove “absolute necessity” before resorting to condemnation. Affirming the PUC’s grant of PPL Electric’s application to exercise its eminent domain power to acquire rights-of-way and easements over the private lands of protestants to construct a new eleven-mile transmission line across the Susquehanna River and a related substation, the Court reaffirmed prior case law adopting an easier hurdle for would-be utility condemnors. As the Court reasoned: “Under Protestants’ proposed standard, utilities could only seek approval … when a problem is looming and the resolution is ‘absolutely necessary.’ Utilities would essentially have to wait until an existing system fails before seeking approval of a project. Not only would this approach be impractical and unrealistic, it would actually pose a danger to the health, safety and welfare of the public.” Hess v. Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, 1370 C.D. 2013 (December 22, 2014) (en banc).