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Input on power line sought

Frederick County’s federal elected representatives are keeping an open mind about a proposed power line that would end in Kemptown.

U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-6) touted the benefits of the proposed twin-500 volt power line that will run through parts of the county in a statement Friday.

“Residents and businesses in the Sixth District expect to have electricity for heat, light and air conditioning when they need it,” he said. “In addition to these benefits, an upgraded transmission system could accommodate more renewable energy generation, such as wind or solar power.”

The state’s two senators, however, were more reserved when discussing the line.

The Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline has been controversial, especially with residents along its anticipated path. It will be 300 miles and stretch from West Virginia to Kemptown. PJM, a firm that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity, approved $1.8 billion for the line Friday.

U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D) intends to review the line as the process continues, according to a spokeswoman.

“We are very early in the process and there are a lot of important issues involved – including the wishes of the communities involved and the need for reliable energy,” Cardin said through a spokeswoman.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D) said the senator believes the proposal needs careful review and public scrutiny.

While Bartlett underscored the need for reliable energy, he also supported public input.

“I encourage everyone to become informed and engaged in the lengthy process that will follow this recommendation,” Bartlett said, noting state agencies will be handling the line’s approvals.

The Frederick County Commissioners, while not taking a position on the line, have decided to write a letter to the county’s federal elected representatives. They will ask them to help ensure the placement of all major power lines goes through proper public procedure.

PJM described the line as a crucial “backbone upgrade” to the region’s transmission system.

Paul Evanson, chairman, president and CEO of Allegheny Energy, said the new line is required to prevent blackouts in the Mid-Atlantic region. It will be a joint project with American Electric Power, which operates a substation near St. Albans, W.Va., where the line will begin.

Overloads on 13 lines in Maryland’s existing system are anticipated by 2012, said Paul Harris, president and CEO of PJM.

Allegheny and American Electric will begin a routing study and environmental assessment for the project. The companies will seek regulatory approvals from the utility commissions in both West Virginia and Maryland following the study’s completion.

By Meg Bernhardt
News-Post Staff

Frederick News-Post

26 June 2007