Calvert Co. Takes Hard Look at Pepco Transmission Project - Southern Maryland Headline News

Calvert Co. Takes Hard Look at Pepco Transmission Project

Commissioners Intervene in Case to Reduce Local Impact

Commentary by Calvert Co. Commissioners

Calvert County has often been a friendly host to utility projects that help support the region's energy sector. We are home to the state's only nuclear power plant and to one of the nation's largest liquefied natural gas import facilities. These sites are major county taxpayers and fit well with the county's development goals outlined in our Comprehensive Plan.

The key, however, is that projects meet the high standards we set for our community. When they do not, as in the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) pole project in Huntingtown, we work hard to see that corrections are made. Recently Pepco has been working with the county on the Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway, or MAPP. We believe that portions of this project can have a negative impact locally, and we have petitioned to become a part of the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) proceedings on the project to ensure that our concerns are addressed.

The MAPP project consists of a transmission line that would increase the ability to transport power across three mid-Atlantic states and would purportedly bring more reliable power to the region. Plans call for a massive, 65-feet-tall industrial facility called a converter station to be located in Calvert County. The station would convert electricity between AC (alternating current) and DC (direct current) for long-range transmission. The Port Republic site Pepco has identified for the station would occupy 34 acres in close proximity to Route 4 near the headwaters of Parkers Creek, one of the largest and most environmentally sensitive creeks in the county.

The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) contends that construction of the facility on Pepco's preferred site would create a blight on the landscape and would be in violation of the Calvert County Comprehensive Plan and the Calvert County Zoning Ordinance. If built at this location, the facility would also have a significant impact on Parkers Creek.

We are intervening in the PSC case because we believe that none of the current parties in the case adequately represent our interest in protecting the Parkers Creek watershed or in seeking compliance with the county's comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance. We have concerns about the environmental and aesthetic impacts related to the location and construction of the converter station. Much of the land surrounding Parkers Creek has been preserved from development as part of an effort to maintain the creek and the surrounding area in their natural condition. We aim to keep it that way.

We have remained firm with Pepco about our priorities and we hope the company will work with us to identify a proper site for the converter station. We will also continue to push Pepco for full, open communication as the process moves forward. The BOCC will give its testimony on the case before the PSC at public hearings on the project scheduled for September. Follow Calvert Currents for regular updates.

The MAPP project is being considered by the PSC under Case Number 9179. Information is available on the Maryland Public Service Commission Web site. To learn more, please contact Linda Vassallo, director of Calvert County Department of Economic Development, at 410-535-4583.

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