HUGHESVILLE, Md. (Sept. 10, 2009)—Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) has received approval of its application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) from the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) to construct a 230-kilovolt (kV) transmission line. SMECO submitted its application to the PSC on November 21, 2008.
The CPCN allows SMECO to construct a 230-kV line that extends from Holland Cliff in northern Calvert County to a new 230/69-kV switching station in southern Calvert County, south to Solomons and across the Patuxent River to SMECO's Hewitt Road switching station in Lexington Park. SMECO plans to construct the line using the existing corridor where a 69-kV line is currently located.
The Co-op is undertaking this Southern Maryland Reliability Project to complete a 230-kV "loop" that will improve its transmission delivery system and ensure continued reliable power to residents in Southern Maryland. The 230-kV loop will provide additional capacity to meet the growth in electricity demand in the area. The completed loop will also create greater operational flexibility to move power around and to isolate and minimize power outages.
Over the past 30 years, SMECO's customer base has tripled, while the amount of energy used is five times greater and expected to continue to grow. According to SMECO President and CEO Austin J. Slater, Jr., "Our customer-members expect reliable power. We are obligated and duty-bound to construct the necessary facilities that will ensure our customers' needs are met."
Slater added, "By following the same route as the current line and staying within existing rights-of-way, this project will have a minimal effect on current rates or the environment." SMECO expects to complete the Southern Maryland Reliability Project over the next five to six years. The permitting and engineering processes are expected to take up to two years, followed by purchasing materials, and then construction. The last phase of the overall project will be the river crossing.
A hearing examiner of the PSC issued a proposed order granting the CPCN on July 14. Following a 30-day period during which no appeals were submitted, the PSC issued an order to review the hearing examiner's decision. On Sept. 9, the PSC affirmed the hearing examiner's proposed order with conditions specifying that SMECO must receive commission approval for alternate routes and it must notify the commission and all parties if any changes are required by the Rural Utility Service.