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Planned Bay-crossing power line getting static

Planned Bay-crossing power line getting static

Every energy project gets static, and power lines are no exception. Thirty-eight national, state and local environmental groups have banded together to voice concerns about the Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway (MAPP), a 152-mile transmission line that would cross the Chesapeake Bay and traverse much of the Delmarva Peninsula.

The $1.2 billion project is being pushed by Pepco Holdings Inc., a combination of the region's utilities including Pepco and Delmarva Power, which argues that the line is needed to avoid power blackouts, to lower electricity costs and to make it possible to access electricity generated by new wind turbines.

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But the green groups question the need for MAPP, and worry about the impact on fish and water quality of carving trenches across 16 miles of bay bottom and up 23 miles of the Choptank River. In all, the project would cross 27 different streams and disrupt 76 acres of forested wetlands, the groups contend. They also suggest there are alternatives that would be less disruptive.

Under similar fire from environmental and community groups, a different group of utilities announced plans earlier this year to withdraw a bid for permits to build the 275-mile Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline from West Virginia to Frederick County.  The move came after PJM, the regional electric grid operator, decided to reevaluate the need for the project.

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A portion of the proposed MAPP project has similarly been tabled for now, but Pepco Holdings is moving forward with the rest of the proposal. The Maryland Public Service Commission is weighing issuing a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity authorizing the project.  Testimony is to be taken through the spring and summer, with hearings scheduled in September and a decision by late fall or early next year.

(Map: Community & Environmental Defense Services)

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