xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Maryland PSC approves settlement for alternate power line route through northern Harford County

Transource Energy has been cleared to move ahead with the Maryland portion of a power line project, including a segment through northern Harford County, following the approval of a settlement agreement by state regulators this week.

The settlement order, issued Tuesday by the Maryland Public Service Commission, includes an alternative route for the project’s eastern segment between Harford and York County, Pennsylvania.

Advertisement

Transource wants to build 45 miles of new power lines for the Independence Energy Connection project, which would improve the flow of power for PJM Interconnection, a regional transmission organization that manages a regional power grid serving 13 states. The new lines would create $800 million in savings for electric customers over 15 years, according to the project website.

“The Commission finds that this project will provide benefits to Maryland ratepayers, including enhanced reliability of electricity service and greater access to least-cost energy from elsewhere within PJM, while also accommodating future development of renewable technologies such as offshore wind,” PSC Chairman Jason Stanek said in a statement.

Advertisement

The project, which initially called for building new power lines as well as new substations and upgrading existing stations, has one segment between eastern Maryland and Pennsylvania and another between western Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Transource, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, is slated to build the 4.5-mile western section in Washington County; BGE will build the eastern section, spanning 6.6 miles, through northern Harford and a corner of northern Baltimore County along the utility’s infrastructure and rights of way, according to the news release.

Many property and business owners on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line, including farmers with land preserved for agricultural use, opposed the eastern portion when the proposed route between the Conastone substation in Norrisville and a new Furnace Run substation in York County was unveiled a few years ago.

Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, the County Council, Harford’s legislative delegation, even Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, all expressed concern about the project, especially its potential impact on local agriculture. The County Council approved a resolution in 2018 stating its opposition to the IEC. Many local property owners pushed for Transource to use existing power line infrastructure rather than build new lines and towers.

Transource has since submitted a plan with a revised eastern route, with the majority of the lines placed along existing BGE routes in Baltimore and Harford counties and PPL Electric Utilities lines in York County. The lines start at the Conastone substation just southwest of the intersection of Route 23 and Route 136, head west along BGE infrastructure through the northeast corner of Baltimore County, then turn and head north into Pennsylvania.

The lines go north along a PPL route, ending near the Otter Creek substation. New lines then head east from there, connecting with the new Furnace Run Substation and then another PPL route heading south, back down to the Graceton substation in Pylesville near Route 165. There also is an east-west line running between Graceton and Conastone, according to a map of the proposed alternate route on the Transource website.

Transource filed a petition for settlement, including the alternate route, with the Maryland PSC and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission last October. The Harford County Council gave its unanimous approval to the settlement agreement in November.

The parties involved in the settlement include Transource, BGE, the Harford County government, landowner and community groups such as STOP Transource Maryland, PSC technical staff and the Power Plant Research Program, part of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, according to the news release.

BGE and Transource must “minimize all construction activities and additional construction-related costs” that pertain to the Maryland segments of the project until Pennsylvania regulators approve portions of the project in that state, plus PJM’s board must give its final approval, according to the release.

“The Glassman Administration is pleased all parties have been able to come together to reach a settlement and one which maintains Harford’s protections of its agricultural land preservation easements,” county government spokesperson Cindy Mumby said in an emailed statement Thursday.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement