Maryland legislator, among others voice opposition towards Independence Energy Connection

A Maryland state senator is among those who have made filings in opposition to Transource’s Independence Energy Connection project.

Maryland State Sen. Robert Cassilly, in a Feb. 6 letter to the state Public Service Commission, requested “that the application be denied because the applicant has not demonstrated a need for the selected route that justifies the impact on the interests of the citizens of Harford County.”

He said that he opposes the application by which Transource Maryland, LLC, proposes construction of the project through northern Harford County, Md.

“Under the current proposal, these electrical lines will extend through approximately three miles of farmland, much of which is in agricultural preservation under state and county funded preservation programs,” he said. “These preservation programs are intended to preserve for future generations the natural beauty and agricultural heritage associated with those properties. Marring the scenic beauty of these properties with major power lines is wholly inconsistent with the purpose for which state and county paid consideration for the placement of these properties in agricultural preservation. Transource Maryland, LLC, has not provided a justification for its proposal that would work a substantial diminution of the public’s investment in these properties.”

Cassilly claimed that the selected route of the proposed power line is “grossly unfair to the directly impacted property owners who, for the public benefit, placed their properties in preservation easements, thereby substantially reducing the potential market value those properties would have had if they were still available for sale for commercial or residential development.”

STOP Transource Power Lines MD, Inc. – which, according to its Feb. 7 filing submitted to the commission, is a non-stock, non-profit corporation – said that it “is vehemently opposed to the” project as currently proposed, as well as the company’s taking of land, whether by agreement or by eminent domain.

The project, as proposed, would “have a significant and substantial impact on economics, esthetics, and historic sites in the vicinity of its proposed location, to the detriment of the members of STOP Transource, the other owners of real property within the project’s proposed path, and the community at large,” STOP Transource claimed.

An American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP) spokesperson on Feb. 13, in response to the filings, told TransmissionHub that PJM Interconnection identified the need for the $320m upgrade to alleviate congestion on the high-voltage electric grid and benefit customers in the region, including parts of Pennsylvania and Maryland.

In December 2017, Transource filed formal applications with the commission, as well as with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission for the project, she added, noting that the commissions will establish procedural schedules soon. A preliminary hearing is set for Feb. 16 in Maryland, the spokesperson noted.

If approved by both state commissions, the project would be built in two segments, East and West, totaling about 45 miles of transmission line in Pennsylvania and Maryland, she said, adding that 7.5 miles of the line are in Maryland.  

The project includes the construction of two new substations in Pennsylvania and connecting them to existing substations in Maryland at Conastone and Ringgold, she said.  

“Throughout 2017, Transource worked to get public input and educate community members about the project,” the spokesperson said. “We held 10 open house meetings, placed newspaper advertisements, established a website and a phone number to receive and track more than 2,500 comments in person and online. We also notified landowners within 1,000 feet of each study segment and were able to consider and accommodate many landowner requests. Based on public feedback, Transource eliminated hundreds of miles of study segments. As the project moves into the regulatory review phase, we continue to keep the community informed about the status of the project.” 

Construction of the project is expected to begin in 2019, with a project in-service date of mid-2020, she said.

According to Transource’s website, Transource is a partnership between AEP and Great Plains Energy (GPE), with AEP owning 86.5% of Transource, and GPE owning 13.5% of Transource.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3286 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares was TransmissionHub’s chief editor until August 2021, as well as part of the team that established TransmissionHub in 2011. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial from 2005 to 2011. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines.