Thursday, October 18, 2007

PJM Approves Pepco High Power Lines

PJM Interconnection, the operator of the mid-Atlantic region's electricity grid, has approved a 230-mile high-voltage power transmission line that would begin in Northern Virgina, cut across Southern Maryland, go under the Chesapeake Bay and end in New Jersey. The line would run adjacent to an existing power line. Now the $1 billion power line proposal by Pepco Holdings enters the public review phase. State regulators from Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey will consider the power line and its environmental impact before allowing it to be built.

The addition of transmission lines could help lower "congestion fees" paid by customers in fast-growing regions such as Washington. North American Electric Reliability Corp., the power industry's watchdog and accountability group, released a report this week stating that the electric power industry in the mid-Atlantic region has failed to keep pace with long-term demand. The region will lose the Benning Road and Buzzard Point power plants in the District when they close in 2012. (The Wash Post/Times)

The power line proposals in the Washington region fall under the U.S. Energy Department's national interest designation. Therefore, they will test a new federal law that gives power companies authority to bypass state regulators and secure land through the federal government if their services are deemed vital to national energy interests. Pepco will host public meetings in coming months to discuss the proposal and gather public input. Pepco delivers electricity and natural gas to about 2 million homes and businesses in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia and the District.

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