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Western Md. to hear about transmission line plan

June 13, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Western Maryland will get two chances next week to comment on a proposed high-voltage transmission line connecting southeast West Virginia to Frederick County, Md.

Part of the line could go through southern Washington County.

The first public information meeting on the $1.8 billion project will be Tuesday in Frederick.

The second meeting will be Wednesday at American Legion Post 10 in Boonsboro.

At the meetings, utility representatives will talk about the concept of the project and why they think it's needed. They'll also explain the siting and approval processes.

"We're just at the beginning," Vernon Estel, the director of transmission projects for Allegheny Power, said during a recent visit to The Herald-Mail.

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He said increasing population and demand for electricity make the new transmission line necessary.

A Maryland Public Service Commission report to the Maryland General Assembly last year says that "unless steps are taken now, the State of Maryland faces a critical shortage of electricity capacity that could force mandatory usage restrictions, such as rolling blackouts, by 2011 or 2012."

PJM Interconnection, which controls the electricity grid for 13 states and Washington, D.C., has put forward its own estimates.

PJM has identified 13 power lines that will be overloaded in Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia, starting in 2012, according to a summary of the proposed transmission line project.

The Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH), would carry 765 kilovolts of electricity from a substation near St. Albans, W.Va., northwest of Charleston, to another substation in Bedington, W.Va., near Martinsburg.

From there, twin transmission lines would carry 500 kilovolts each to a new substation to be built in Kemptown, Md., southeast of Frederick.

Allegheny Power and American Electric Power are working together on the transmission line project, which would run nearly 300 miles.

Utility officials recently discussed the plan with local government representatives.

Two public open houses are expected to be held in August, when more specifics will be known about the transmission line, particularly where it will go.

Estel said the two utilities hope to submit their plans to the Maryland and West Virginia public service commissions by early December.

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