Maryland agency seeks schedule delay in case involving Delmarva Power’s proposed 138-kV line

The Power Plant Research Program (PPRP) of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources on March 17 filed a motion with Maryland state regulators to delay the schedule pertaining to Delmarva Power & Light’s proposed 138-kV overhead transmission line from the Piney Grove substation to the Maryland state line.

As reported, Delmarva Power last August applied at the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) for a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) to build the Maryland portion of the 30.9-mile, 138-kV transmission line originating at the company’s Piney Grove substation in Wicomico County, Md., and extending to Delmarva Power’s Wattsville substation in Accomack County, Va.

The project, which would be located within existing right of way (ROW), is called the Piney Grove to Wattsville Project. The Maryland portion of the project involves construction of 24.75 miles of high-voltage AC transmission circuit from the Piney Grove substation to the Maryland/Virginia state line.

Delmarva Power said that the project would resolve a PJM Interconnection demonstrated post-contingency thermal violation that could, if left unaddressed, disrupt the flow of power from generation sources in the Virginia portion of the Delmarva Peninsula and adversely impact reliability, as early as June 2018. The peninsula, which forms the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, has a land connection at the north end, with parts of Maryland and Delaware in the northern and mid areas, and an area of Virginia detached from the mainland of Virginia at the southern end.

The new 138-kV transmission line must be in operation by June 1, 2018. As a result, Delmarva Power said it must start construction in Maryland by October 2016, and complete construction by May 2018.

The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) staff, in a Jan. 5 report filed with the SCC, said that it does not oppose the proposed project, concluding that the company has reasonably demonstrated the need for the proposed project.

According to the PPRP’s motion, the PPRP and the reviewing Maryland state agencies have been working to evaluate the proposed project, to prepare a coordinated analysis, and draft a set of recommended licensing conditions by April 4, which is when the procedural schedule called on for the PPRP and others to file direct testimony in the matter.

“Despite our best efforts, and for the reasons set forth below, the state agencies’ evaluation and recommendations will not be available by April 4,” the PPRP said, adding that “the initial application contained substantial deficiencies in addressing the significant environmental impacts that the project may have, and the depth of the problem was not clear until PPRP obtained information through discovery.”

Upon request from the PPRP, Delmarva Power last month filed an approximately 246-page supplemental filing, including an updated environmental review document (ERD) and appendices. As a separate document, the company provided a “Supplement to RFR-2 Exhibit”, uploaded last month. The supplemental filing included a significant amount of new information, as well as information modifying the company’s initial ERD, but still lacks required information, the PPRP added.

In its 246-page document, the company noted that project design has progressed since the August 2015 application submission. Among other things, the company said that structure locations and access paths have been revised to further avoid and minimize impacts to regulated resources.

The PPRP said that the state agencies need additional time in order to review the supplemental filing, gather and review the remaining necessary information, and adequately complete their evaluation and recommendations for the PSC’s consideration.

The state agencies request that the filing date for intervenor direct testimony be moved to June 27, with the assumption that the company will provide the necessary information by May 16, prior to a scheduled status conference. The PPRP added that the state agencies are cognizant of the company’s interest in processing the application as expeditiously as possible, and will work with other parties to attempt to minimize delay.

Delmarva Power is a subsidiary of Pepco Holdings (NYSE:POM).

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3270 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 16 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.