MAPP power transmission project likely to be delayed

Recently, Pepco Holdings Inc. (PHI) notified the Maryland Public Service Commission and Virginia State Corporation Commission that the company is requesting temporary delays in the Commissions’ reviews of the respective applications filed by the utility’s subsidiaries, Pepco and Delmarva Power, for state regulatory approval for the Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway (MAPP).

The requests were filed following notification from PJM Interconnection (PJM), the regional electric grid operator, that it has established a new in-service date for MAPP for 2019-2021, pushed back from the original date of 2015.

MAPP is a proposed 152-mile, high-voltage interstate transmission project planned to originate at the Possum Point substation in northern Virginia, traverse under the Chesapeake Bay and end at the Indian River substation near Millsboro.

Delmarva Power’s current main transmission line comes from the north. The proposed MAPP would be the first major transmission line built in 25 years and would allow for another avenue for the peninsula to get energy, adding more reliability, Delmarva Power spokesmen have said in past meetings. But that added reliability may need to wait.

In a letter to Pepco Holdings dated Aug. 18, Mike Kormos of PJM wrote, “The Board therefore directs PHI to limit further development and to proceed with only those efforts reasonable necessary to allow the MAPP project to be quickly re-started should these planning activities demonstrate the need to do so. This action does not constitute a directive by PJM to PHI to cancel or abandon the MAPP project. Rather, it is recognition of the uncertainties underlying the timing of the need for the project.”

Matt Likovich of Delmarva Power said the company continues to believe that MAPP is needed “to provide safe and reliable electric service to the Mid-Atlantic region.”

“PJM’s 2011 planning process still confirms the need for MAPP but has simply moved the in-service date to the 2019-2021 timeframe. Delmarva Power will continue to take the necessary steps to ensure that MAPP can be completed by the new in-service date chosen by PJM.”

The date could still be sooner than the 2019-2021 time frame, said Likovich, as PJM is in the process of re-evaluating its transmission planning methods.

Variables that could mean an earlier timeframe include possible new environmental regulations retiring certain coal- and nuclear-powered generating plants or significant development of offshore wind in the Mid-Atlantic region, which MAPP could be able to serve as a conduit to get the energy into the regional grid.

“The bottom line is that the MAPP project is still on the planning board, and Delmarva Power believes it is a very worthwhile project that will address future energy needs in the Mid-Atlantic Region. The project in-service date has simply been changed from 2015 to the 2019-2021 time frame,” said Likovich.