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Cumberland power plant ruling put off


The Maryland Public Service Commission has postponed a decision on a proposal for a controversial power plant in Cumberland, urging the opposing sides to reach a compromise.

"We believe that it will be in the parties' and intervenors' interest, and in the public interest . . . to engage in discussion to determine if there is any basis for a compromise," said a letter dated Feb. 18 sent to the parties and signed by PSC board members.

A decision on the plant was scheduled to be made Friday. But that was pushed back to March 17 after the participants in the case agreed to the delay.

The dispute involves building a 180-megawatt, coal-fired plant called Warrior Run by a subsidiary of AES Corp. of Arlington, Va.

Potomac Edison Co., which provides electricity to Western Maryland, contracted with AES in 1988 to build the plant in the mid-1990s. But since then, the utility's power needs have changed.

Supporters of the plant, including the Western Maryland coal industry, the Allegany County Chamber of Commerce and state legislators in Western Maryland, said the plant would bring jobs and a boost to the economy with long-term purchases of Western Maryland coal.

Opponents said the plant is not needed for at least another decade and would unnecessarily boost Western Maryland electric rates by 10 percent to 20 percent.

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