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Boonsboro to host informational meeting on high-voltage power line

August 13, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Several possible routes for a planned high-voltage transmission line will be on display Wednesday night at a public meeting in Boonsboro.

Allegheny Power is holding the meeting at the American Legion Post 10 in Boonsboro from 5 to 8 p.m.

People will have a chance to comment on the proposed routes, which will be displayed on maps.

Aerial photographs with the routes superimposed also will be available, Allegheny Power Spokesman Todd Meyers said.

The meeting is one of seven the company is holding as it prepares to finalize the route for the Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH), which will consist of two 500-kilovolt transmission lines between Bedington, W.Va., and Kemptown, Md., in Frederick County.

A portion of the line will also run from St. Albans, W.Va., to Bedington.

The $1.8 billion line is needed to accommodate a rising demand for electricity that could cause blackouts as soon as 2012, power company and federal officials have said.

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Allegheny Power held the first of its public meetings showing possible routes Monday night in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., and was scheduled to hold a second Tuesday night in Frederick, Md.

After tonight's meeting in Boonsboro, Allegheny Power will hold meetings in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., and Lovettsville, Va., on Thursday; in New Market, Md., on Aug. 18; and in Middletown, Md., on Aug. 19.

Maps of the possible routes show that if the line went through Washington County it would travel south of Williamsport and pass into Frederick County near Boonsboro.

One possible route largely would run parallel to an existing 500-kilovolt line, while another option would not, according to the maps.

The line could travel as much as 5 miles south of Williamsport and either north or south of Boonsboro.

Another route through Jefferson County, W.Va., and Loudoun County, Va., would miss Washington County entirely.

The twin transmission lines also can be divided along separate routes if necessary.

Meyers said Allegheny Power is considering all possibilities.

"Everything on the map is a viable option at this point," Meyers said.

Meyers said the power company is trying to use existing lines wherever possible, though he said it is unlikely the entire line will follow existing routes.

The existing 500-kilovolt line in Washington County passes 1 to 2 miles north of Antietam National Battlefield. If that route is used, the new line would run north of the existing line, Meyers said.

Battlefield Superintendent John W. Howard said Tuesday he is concerned that the new line could require considerable land clearing on South Mountain, which he said would be visible from the battlefield.

He also said the tops of the towers of the existing 500-kilovolt line are visible from the battlefield's observation tower.

Washington County Planning Director Michael C. Thompson said Tuesday that the county has commented on some of the proposed routes but is waiting to do a detailed analysis until a final route is selected.

He said that federal government decisions on where the line is allowed to cross the Appalachian Trail and the C&O Canal will influence its final alignment.

"We're starting to narrow this thing down, but it's still all speculative at this point," Thompson said.

Meyers said Allegheny Power hopes to apply for Maryland regulatory approval for the transmission line by December.

At that time, a route will have been chosen.

The power company expects the state to spend about a year deciding on regulatory approvals, during which time the state will hold public hearings.

If the line is approved, Meyers said it will take about two years to build.

If you go ...



What: Public meeting on proposed routes for PATH transmission line

Where: American Legion Post 10, 710 N. Main St., Boonsboro

When: 5 to 8 p.m today

People who are unable to attend the meeting may comment at www.pathtransmission.com, a Web site created by Allegheny Power to provide information about the PATH line.

Maps are available on the Web site.

People who cannot attend the Boonsboro meeting may go to other meetings to comment and see the proposed routes.

Detailed maps will be available at every meeting.

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