Giant power line planned

DOVER, DELAWARE - Delmarva Power unveiled a plan for a proposed interstate electric transmission line.

The mid-Atlantic Power Pathway, utility representatives told the state Public Service Commission, is the first interstate transmission line in the region to come along in 25 years.

The last new line connected New York to Washington, D.C.

The proposed $1.2 billion, 230-mile line is designed to ease power congestion on the Delmarva Peninsula, in the Washington-Baltimore area and in southern New Jersey. Power Pathway lines would create what Bill Gausman, vice president of asset management for Delmarva's parent company Pepco Holdings, called a continuous loop through the Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania region.

For the first time, the Delmarva Peninsula would be connected to electric sources from the south and west. "It would significantly enhance the reliability of the electric system on the Delmarva Peninsula," Delmarva spokesman Bill Yingling said. Mr. Gausman and Delmarva Power regional president Gary Stockbridge said it's time to expand the transmission grid for more reliable electric supply.

"Although we're excited about this, we recognize it's one piece of the puzzle," Mr. Stockbridge told the PSC and representatives from various state agencies. "We believe it is important to get additional power to the Delmarva Peninsula, since a PJM report indicates that the peninsula will experience a 2.5 percent annual growth in electricity demand over the next decade," Delmarva spokesman Matt Likovich said.

The transmission line would have a Dover connection. Power Pathway lines would serve utilities up and down the peninsula, Mr. Yingling said, and therefore could travel along the existing Delmarva Power rights of way in Delaware.

Since Delmarva has power lines that run through the Dover area, Mr. Yingling said, the vast majority of the new lines would run through these existing rights of way. The transmission line would increase power import capability onto the peninsula by more than 1,000 megawatts, or 1 million homes. Some of the power sources placed on the grid would be from coal-fired and nuclear power plants.

PSC executive director Bruce H. Burcat said Delaware already receives some of its electricity from nuclear sources, such as New Jersey-based plants. Because Delmarva Power still has to acquire various permits in multiple states, the utility isn't sure when it will be able to start construction on the project, although it hopes to begin next year and finish by 2014.

"They still have a long way to go," Mr. Burcat said. "They have to get a lot of things done by 2014."

Delmarva has a proposed memorandum of understanding between Eastern Shore Natural Gas Corp. and Maryland Broadband Cooperative to identify and select a utility corridor crossing the Chesapeake Bay, minimize environmental impacts from construction and perform joint environmental studies.

It must establish agreements with environmental and engineering consulting firms, review existing easement agreements and determine where additions are needed and new agreements are required. It has letters of support from Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, the Delmarva Peninsula Planning Association, Delaware Municipal Electric Corp. and Delaware Electric Cooperative.

Mr. Gausman said the cost of the project would be shared throughout the region. The Delmarva Peninsula customer share would be less than 10 percent, he said.

Mr. Stockbridge said members of PJM Interconnection, one of the world's largest power grids, approved the project in October.


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