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PEPCO Powers Down

One-year delay looks to re-evaluate “transmission planning methods”

The proposed power transmission route would cross Chesapeake Bay and, opponents argue, endanger the health of the sensitive headwaters of Parker’s Creek.

Plans for towering transmission lines to bisect Calvert County and hop across the Bay from a gigantic power conversion station in sleepy little Port Republic have been put down for a nap.
    The Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway proposed by PEPCO is a high-voltage 152-mile interstate transmission project. The project was in review by Maryland Public Service Commission when, in a surprise turn of events, PEPCO asked the Commission to delay.
    PEPCO’s request follows close on an announcement from PJM Interconnection — the regional electric grid operator for Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland — that it has delayed the start up-date for MAPP “from 2015 to a 2019-2021 timeframe.”
    The project has been put on hold while the grid operator re-evaluates its “transmission planning methods.” The evaluation is expected sometime in 2012.
    The proposed power transmission route originates at the Possum Point substation in northern Virginia and crosses the Patuxent River into Calvert County to an open-air converter station in Port Republic. From there transmission lines go under Chesapeake Bay, resurfacing on the Eastern Shore, eventually ending at the Indian River substation in Delaware.
    The Maryland Public Service Commission needed to approve the plan before PEPCO could proceed.
    Both the Calvert County government and the American Chestnut Land Trust filed a Petition to Intervene with the Maryland Public Service Commission, opposing PEPCO’s planned site for a massive power converter station in Port Republic.
    If built, the converter station would be one of the largest in the world, covering 34 acres with two six-story buildings. The converter station would be more than an eyesore in the still-rural community, opponents argue. At the environmentally sensitive headwaters of Parker’s Creek, it would endanger the health of the watershed, which has so far been protected by a quarter-century of private-public partnerships.
    “American Chestnut Land Trust is hopeful that the one-year delay in the Public Service Commission proceedings will be utilized by PEPCO to locate an environmentally acceptable alternative to the current proposed site for the converter station at the headwaters of Parkers Creek in Port Republic,” says Karen Edgecombe, Trust executive director.
    The power pathway plan isn’t dead, but the delay was cause for cautious celebration.
    The Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, which also opposed the MAPP, called PEPCO’s announcement “good news” in a statement from deputy director Amy Owsley.
    “The issue with MAPP was that the need was never proven from the beginning,” Owsley said. “It has never been an issue about whether we need reliable power but how best to do so.”

Read Tearman’s April 7 article Power Play at http://bayweekly.com/articles/news/article/power-play.