OCEAN CITY—City Council voted unanimously on Monday to support the proposed Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway (MAPP) that’s estimated to cost $1.2 billion and will increase the region’s ability to import power by 2014.
Jim Smith and Jerry Elliot of Delmarva Power outlined the plans for the project that they called “the most important project for the peninsula” in regards to powering the area for the future at City Hall to an intrigued and supportive Mayor and City Council.
“It will essentially make better and cheaper electricity and ensure that the peninsula would not be the victim of huge rolling blackouts, which experts have warned could happen if the upgrade is not made”, said Elliot. “It’s been 25 years since the last major interstate transmission line has been installed in the Mid-Atlantic region, and there are currently no bulk transmission lines on the peninsula.”
The MAPP project would be a 150-mile transmission line that would start in Possum Point, Va. and end at Indian River, Del. and would enable the area’s power suppliers to bring more power, and more importantly, more affordable power to the region.
“We are going around to local municipalities and hoping to gain their support for the MAPP project so we can hopefully get federal stimulus money”, said Elliot. “Without support from local governments, this project could be easily stalled or delayed.”
The MAPP project has already gained support from the Worcester County Comissioners, Wicomico County Council, 38th District Delegates, and several regional Chamber of Commerce organizations, such as Salisbury, Talbot, and Crisfield. On Monday, the Ocean City Council added their nod of approval to the proposed plan.
“I’d certainly like to lend my support what I think will be a great project for this area”, said councilman Jim Hall.
The MAPP program will also utilize renewable energies as well according to Elliot, who noted that power generated from nuclear, solar, wind, and fossil fuel power plants will be used to bring more power than ever before to the region.
“There’s quite a bit more renewable power that is available in the PJM (PJM is the regional transmission power operator) region that the MAPP project will basically provide a pipeline so we can tap into those almost 500 renewable power projects,” explained Elliot.
The Delmarva Peninsula, as it exists now is supplied by one transmission line in New Castle County in Delaware. Elliot said that if that northern supply is lost, power would and has been unavailable for long periods of time.”
“The MAPP project will improve the flow of electricity and reduce the cost of power by reducing congestion, which essentially means that more power is available than what the system can bring in,” said Elliot. “When that happens, outside generators have to be brought in to meet the demand, thus raising costs. The MAPP project would fix that.”
Mayor Rick Meehan gave his support of the project, but did query Elliot on the steps they were taking to decrease the impact felt by municipalities throughout the region, most notably Dorchester County.
In Dorchester, new transmission lines would have to be built, and Meehan had received a letter expressing Dorchester’s concerns with the project and the impact that it would have on their county.
Elliot assured the Mayor and City Council that there was still many studies and work to be done on the specifics of how the MAPP project was going to look.
“We still have many studies to do on this project, including environmental, and municipal impact and we are addressing all the concerns that folks in Dorchester and other counties have brought forward,” said Elliot.
The Maryland Public Service Commission will have the final say on this project and the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) will be sure to weigh in on it as well before it begins.
“I have about 37 years of experience working for Delmarva Power, and quite a bit of my time was in transmission, and I would say that this is the most important project for the peninsula that has ever been brought about because this peninsula has always essentially been limited by it’s reliability by a single circuit up in New Castle County,” said Elliot. “There have been times in the 90s when, because of that circuit, the lights were out for a number of hours, and this circuit would have avoided it.”
Meehan on the other hand, was a bit more apprehensive to agree with Elliot’s somewhat grandiose claim, but did note his concurrence that the MAPP project is vital for the future of the Eastern Shore.
“I think it may have been a broad stroke to call it the most important project the region has ever faced in regards to energy, but I do see the importance in it, because the demand for energy has increased so dramatically on the Delmarva Peninsula in the last 10-15 years,” he said.
Meehan urged citizens to learn about the specifics of the project and noted that whatever the outcome, the change is some years away.
“They have a lot of things to work out on this, and we addressed some of our concerns, but everyone needs to remember this won’t be happening for quite some time.”