BGE seeks waiver in Maryland in relation to proposed 115-kV transmission line project

Exelon‘s (NYSE:EXC) Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) on Jan. 11 requested that the Maryland Public Service Commission waive the requirement to obtain a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) in connection with work on a portion of an existing 115-kV overhead transmission line located in Harford County, Md.

BGE said that it must modify the existing line that runs between the Five Forks substation and the Maryland-Pennsylvania border in order to address aging infrastructure and resolve avian interference.

The existing line – referred to as the existing OH Line – consists of two circuits – Circuit Nos. 110901-1 and 110901-2 – installed on parallel lattice tower structures over a distance of about 1.8 miles. The existing OH Line is more than 100 years old and has experienced substantial reliability problems, BGE added, noting that the tower structures that support the existing OH Line were built in the 1910s, with the newest span of conductor dating back to the 1930s.

A total of 27 reliability related events have occurred during the past 10 years due to aging splices, aging infrastructure, and avian interference. BGE also said that due to the age of the existing OH Line, it does not conform with current engineering standards and clearance requirements that are intended to improve reliability and reduce avian-related outages.

As part of the project, the two existing steel lattice tower lines would be replaced with one double-circuit weathering steel monopole line located in the middle of the two existing lattice tower lines. BGE added that it would replace 40 steel lattice towers with 12 weathering steel poles along the approximately 1.8-mile stretch between the Five Forks substation and the Maryland-Pennsylvania border.

The replacement pole structures would range in height from about 80 feet to 115 feet with a base diameter of about 50 inches tapering to about 30 inches at the top of the pole. BGE added that the existing steel lattice tower structures along the existing OH Line range in height from about 64 feet to 77 feet.

Noting that there are currently two conductor sizes installed on the existing OH Line – 634.9kcm 12/7 ACAR and 300kcm 19 strand AAC, BGE said that as part of the project, all existing conductor would be replaced with 795kcm 30/19 ACSR “Mallard” conductor, which is about 1.14 inches in diameter. BGE said that it would also replace the existing single 0.512 inch 48-fiber optical ground wire (OPGW) installed on the west lattice tower line with dual 0.512 inch 48-fiber OPGW shield wire on the replacement steel pole line.

BGE noted that it plans to begin the construction work on the project in 2Q19, and that it estimates that it would take about nine months to complete the project.

According to the current schedule for the overhead transmission line construction work associated with the project, the “transmission civil/electrical construction of replacement OH Transmission Line” would begin on April 1 and be completed on Nov. 22; the modified OH line would begin to be placed into service on Nov. 18, with completion occurring on Nov. 22; and the decommissioning and demolition of the existing OH line would begin on April 1 and be completed on June 28.

The estimated cost to complete the project is $8.7m, BGE said, adding that it would seek recovery of the cost through its formula transmission rate contained in PJM Interconnection’s Open Access Transmission Tariff on file with FERC.

The project area is in a sparsely populated section of the county, and only a few residences and agricultural/farming businesses are located adjacent to the existing overhead line. BGE also said that it already communicated in writing with the property owners adjacent to the project site prior to performing certain preliminary engineering and environmental survey work. BGE said that it will issue written notification letters to those property owners closer to the actual start date of the construction work on the project. BGE said that it has also informed county government officials about the project and that it will continue to update those officials, as well as other interested stakeholders, on the progress of the project and any associated impacts on the adjacent properties.

BGE said that it anticipates only minimal environmental impacts from project construction. The company also said that it would comply with all permitting and legal requirements in connection with project construction, and otherwise take steps to minimize impacts to the environment.

Among other things, the company said that “good cause” exists for waiving the requirement to obtain a CPCN because, for instance, in order to build the project, BGE would not need to obtain any new real property or additional rights of way through eminent domain; all work related to the project would take place within the existing BGE transmission corridor between the Five Forks substation and the Maryland-Pennsylvania border. Another reason, the company said, is that as a result of the project, the total number of tower structures that support the existing OH Line would be reduced by 28 structures; thus, the project would result in improved aesthetics, as well as reduced environmental and other impacts to the corridor and adjacent communities.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 2807 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 13 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 corinar@pennwell.com.