MAPP project might be canceled, according to officials

The Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway (MAPP) project could be a no-go, according to electric company officials. Pepco Holdings, the parent company of Delmarva Power, Pepco and Atlantic City Electric, is reviewing a recommendation from the Transmission Expansion Advisory Committee of PJM Interconnection (PJM) — the regional electric grid operator — and awaiting a final decision from the PJM Board of Managers later this month, explained Matt Likovich of Delmarva Power.

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. But the economy, among other factors, may have put that plan in mothballs.

Last summer, the project and its vitality were challenged by the public, even though Delmarva Power officials had previously held informational meetings in Millsboro, Gumboro and Delmar, asked for support in the town of Ocean View and presented their plan to Sussex County Council, as it would affect Sussex County residents and landowners.

In August 2011, Pepco Holdings Inc. (PHI) notified the Maryland Public Service Commission and Virginia State Corporation Commission that the company was requesting temporary delays in the Commissions’ reviews of the applications for state regulatory approval for the MAPP project. That was following notification from PJM that it had established a new in-service date for MAPP to 2019-2021, pushed back from the original date of 2015.

Likovich said at that time that variables that could mean an earlier timeframe included possible new environmental regulations retiring certain coal- and nuclear-powered generating plants or significant development of offshore wind power in the Mid-Atlantic region, for which MAPP could serve as a conduit to get the energy into the regional grid.

Offshore wind seems to be on hold, as well, as at the end of 2011, NRG Energy announced that it was suspending active development of offshore wind projects, citing the fact that Bluewater Wind — lead developer of the Mid-Atlantic Wind Park off the coast of Delaware and an NRG subsidiary — had been unable to find an investment partner and intended to terminate the project’s 200-megawatt power purchase agreement (PPA) with Delmarva Power & Light Company (DP&L) at the end of the year.

In a recent email to various area governmental officials, environmental groups and community leaders, Mark Okonowicz — environmental coordinator for the MAPP project for Pepco Holdings Inc. — wrote that PJM issued the final results of its 2012 transmission analysis and, due to factors such as “lower load growth from the sluggish economy, the installation of new gas-fired power plants and the increase in demand-response programs, no reliability violations were identified within the transmission planning window.”

As a result, the PJM Transmission Expansion Advisory Committee (TEAC) issued a recommendation that the MAPP project be canceled. On Aug. 24, the PJM Board of Managers is set to meet to make a final decision on the TEAC’s recommendation, Okonowicz said.