Member Spotlight Archive

Berlin, Pennsylvania

Providing Power for More Than a Century

The Borough of Berlin, Pennsylvania is located approximately 75 miles southeast of Pittsburgh and is the oldest community in Somerset County. Berlin is also 15 miles south of the Flight 93 Memorial Site, where the United Airlines flight that was hijacked on September 11, 2001 crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Berlin has been in the electric business for over 100 years. The community used to generate its own electricity, but discontinued that in 1919 and began buying wholesale power from Pennsylvania Electric Company (now Penelec, an operating company of FirstEnergy Corp.) The relationship with Penelec lasted for nearly 80 years, until the Pennsylvania electric utility market was deregulated. The borough is currently pursuing its own generation in partnership with AMP through the proposed Berlin Wind Power Project, at a projected cost of $12 million. Slated to begin construction later this year or early next year, the project would erect three wind turbines, each with a capacity of 1.5 to 1.8 MW, approximately three miles east of Berlin. The community would acquire up to 51 percent of the generation and offer the remaining 49 percent to other AMP partners. The Berlin Municipal Electric System currently serves a total of 1,130 meters.

Berlin is currently advocating for passage through the Pennsylvania General Assembly of legislation to give Pennsylvania municipalities explicit authority to enter into “take-or-pay” contractual arrangements. Passage of this legislation would allow Berlin and other Pennsylvania municipal electric communities the opportunity to participate in additional AMP generation projects such as the Meldahl and Greenup Hydroelectric Projects.

Berlin’s biggest employer is Snyder of Berlin, which produces over 17 million pounds of potato chips yearly, with some of the potatoes grown on local farming operations in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands.

Named for the city in Germany, Berlin was settled in 1768 and incorporated in 1837. The borough gained notoriety as the birthplace of the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794, when townspeople rose up in mass protest against a governmental excise tax on their chief cash crop of whiskey. This eventually led to President George Washington sending more than 10,000 federal troops to the area, and was the first time national military forces were used inside the country. The borough is also home to the Berlin Fife and Drum Corps, the oldest organization of its kind in continuous service since 1782. Each year the Berlin Fife and Drum Corps gives a presentation at the borough’s annual Whiskey Rebellion Heritage Festival held in the fall. The festival also features living history re-enactors and period demonstrators.