Maryland approves Delmarva Power transmission line rebuild

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The Maryland Public Service Commission has granted Delmarva Power & Light’s application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity to rebuild the existing 25.5-mile, 138-kV overhead transmission line on existing right of way from the Church substation in Queen Anne’s County, Md., to the Steele substation in Caroline County, Md.

According to a Sept. 10 letter to all parties of record from the PSC, an Aug. 10 proposed order of a PSC public utility law judge that granted the company’s application was not appealed by any party, nor has the PSC modified or reversed the proposed order, or initiated further proceedings into the matter. As a result, the proposed order became a final order of the PSC.

As noted in the proposed order, Delmarva Power submitted the application last October. According to the application, the upgrade of the line will remediate the age and condition of the line, as well as address National Electric Safety Code clearance issues identified through a NERC facility ratings alert process.

According to the company, the line was originally installed in 1955, and a mid-2012 forced outage of the line caused by a line sagging into the crossing of a perpendicular distribution line owned by Choptank Electric Cooperative prompted Delmarva Power to inspect the transmission line further in early 2013 through an aerial comprehensive inspection program.

The proposed order further noted that as a result of that inspection, the company identified infrastructure that needed to be replaced due to poor condition, including 40 deteriorated crossarms, 12 poles with extensive woodpecker damage, and six broken insulators.

According to the company, in conformance with its proactive planning for future operations, the project is designed and will be built to allow it to be energized at 230-kV at a future time, with modifications to the Church and Steele substations.

The total estimated capital cost for the project is $29.6 million, with a current estimated annual operation cost of about $1.5 million.

The proposed order also noted that state regulatory staff supports the granting of a CPCN subject to certain recommended licensing conditions as well as staff’s condition that the company provide notice to the PSC at least five business days before putting each portion of the project in service and of the project’s completion date.

As TransmissionHub reported, the proposed completion schedule calls for construction to be undertaken in two segments. The first segment is described as the 138-kV line between the Steele substation and the Oil City Tap. The outage for Segment 1 has been scheduled from Feb. 1 to March 1, 2016. The portion of the line identified as Segment 2 is between the Oil City Tap and the Church substation. The Segment 2 outage is to be completed in two phases: the initial phase is scheduled from March 2 to May 27, 2016, and the second phase would occur between Sept. 6, 2016 and April 28, 2017.

The public utility law judge, in the proposed order, found that the project will increase the stability and reliability of the existing transmission line, and that by eliminating the NESC violations and installing new infrastructure, the transmission line will meet the needs of the existing and future demand for electric service to the customers served by the line.

Noting that the project is designed to allow Delmarva Power to install a 230-kV transmission line in the future, the public utility law judge said that while the company must file an application for a CPCN before installing the 230-kV line, the record reflects that the design will reduce the environmental impact of, and facilitate the construction of, the line.

Therefore, the public utility law judge said, the project inclusion of the ability to add the 230-kV line will meet the needs of future demand for electric service to the customers served by the line.

In addition, the rebuilt line will have no significant impact on aesthetics, primarily visual impact, on areas located near or adjacent to it; the project will have no adverse effect on historical sites near or adjacent to the transmission line corridor; and there is no evidence of any adverse impact by the transmission line on aviation safety.

Among other things, the public utility law judge said that subject to the final recommended licensing conditions of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Power Plant Research Program “and staff’s recommended licensing condition, I find that the grant of a CPCN to Delmarva to rebuild the 138 kV transmission line from the Church substation to the Steele substation is in the public interest.”

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