Old Dominion seeks approvals for new power plant in Cecil County

Old Dominion Electric Cooperative continues to work through the regulatory approval process, as it plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build a second natural gas-fired facility to generate electricity in Cecil County.

The figure of $675 million estimated to build the proposed Wildcat Point generating station north of Conowingo is well above what another power generating company, Exelon Generation, is spending to expand its natural gas facility in Harford County; however, both projects represent significant private sector investments in the northeastern Maryland region, in an era of abundant natural gas supplies.

Exelon officials plan to spend $122 million to purchase additional gas-fired generating units for the company's existing Perryman generating facility and are currently having their plans reviewed by Harford County.

Officials with Old Dominion, which is headquartered in Glen Allen, Va., say Wildcat Point will be able to generate 1,000 megawatts of electricity, which is enough to serve 390,000 homes in the region annually.

Old Dominion also owns the 10-year-old Rock Springs generating facility in Conowingo, a gas-fired plant that can produce 672 megawatts of electricity, according to the company. The Wildcat Point plant will be adjacent to the existing plant on Route 222, the company said.

According to its website, Old Dominion is a nonprofit, 11-member-owned power generation and transmission company. The cooperative's members serve 1.2 million customers in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

A website, http://www.wildcatpoint.com has been set up to keep the public informed about the project. The company held an open house last week in Cecil County to answer questions from the public about Wildcat Point.

Utility officials filed an application with the Maryland Public Service Commission in May to obtain a Certificate of Public Convenience & Necessity to build Wildcat Point. The review process is expected to extend into next year, according to the website.

Shena Crittendon, director of communications and public relations with Old Dominion, said Tuesday that construction of the plant is expected to begin in late 2015.

A water pipeline will also be built to draw water from the Susquehanna River over seven miles to the plant in Conowingo, according to local media reports. Crittendon said officials estimate the plant will use 4.1 million gallons of water per day.

The water will come from the large impoundment behind Conowingo Dam that extends several miles into Pennsylvania. The same impoundment is a reserve public drinking water source for Harford County and the rest of the Baltimore region, as well as the source for water used to generate electricity at Exelon's Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station in York County, Pa.

"We're very pleased with how the process has gone and we're looking forward to the Wildcat Point facility to benefit members of the co-op on Maryland's Eastern Shore as well as Cecil County," Craig Whiteford, budget manager for Cecil County, said Tuesday.

Cecil County Executive Tari Moore and members of the Cecil County Council approved a PILOT, or payment in lieu of taxes, agreement with Old Dominion on May 21.

The agreement is based on the company's investment in Wildcat Point.

Whiteford said the PILOT agreement would bring in $124.2 million in tax revenue from Wildcat Point through 2051, including $119.2 million in personal and real property tax, plus $5 million in local income tax.

A PILOT agreement is in effect through 2032 between the county and Old Dominion based on its investment in the Rock Springs facility. Whiteford said tax revenues without the additional investment in Wildcat Point would be $43 million.

"This expansion, representing a potential investment at the site of $675 million, essentially guarantees a payment stream to Cecil County through 2051," Whiteford said.

The project is also expected to create 600 construction jobs and 30 permanent jobs, Whiteford said.

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