Monday, June 21, 2010

The Choptank Route?

ESLC has been following the latest developments with the MAPP project very closely (see below for our latest update.)
What do you think?

The Choptank Route; a different option with the same questions

Most of you are aware of Pepco Holding INC's. (PHI) recent announcement of a the Choptank Route - their proposed route through Dorchester County. The Choptank Route entails bringing the high voltage transmission lines underwater across the Bay, continuing up the Choptank River, coming on land north of the Cambridge Hyatt Regency and continuing over land into Vienna. PHI applauds the route selection and is in the process of gaining support for the new route - but many of the same questions remain unanswered.

Has the Need Been Established?

PHI has not established the need for the overall MAPP Project as the process remains in suspension at the state level. This suspension was at the request of the utility company with the understanding that the project would be revisited when studies were released about overall energy consumption and demand. Locally, many people do not realize the project is in suspension because of the continued efforts to secure rights of way and numerous presentations to gain support for the project. A statement such as "The power could go out by 2014" doesn't facilitate understanding the project or the address overall need for the MAPP project. The Office of People's Council, a Maryland State Agency that represents the utility rate payers of Maryland, called these types of tactics fear mongering.

Will this disrupt aquatic life in the Choptank River?
We don't know!

What are the environmental impacts of the Choptank Route? PHI has actively promoted the oyster studies they have completed and how the high voltage lines will not disturb historic or current oyster beds but fails to address other aquatic life that resides in the Chesapeake Bay or the Choptank River. There are more valuable resources in the Choptank River and Chesapeake Bay beyond oyster beds and how they will be affected must be addressed.

Is this Going To Impact MY Wallet?
YES! Even if the transmission line never breaks ground!

The original price tag for the project was 1.2 billion dollars, however the new Choptank Route could cost an additional $100-200 million dollars. Who will pay these costs? You, the consumer will. This project also has a 12.8% interest rate of return - that is for every dollar spent PHI will get that dollar back plus 12.8%. PHI has already spent over 4 million dollars to purchase properties in Dorchester County alone. All of which you, the consumer, will ultimately pay for.

There are too many unanswered questions to simply accept the Choptank River route as the right option to the MAPP line. Eastern Shore Land Conservancy will continue to ask questions about the environmental impacts, push for the highest levels of fiscal responsibility, and work at the state, regional and local levels to better understand the need for this project. Please don't stop asking questions and demanding the highest level of transparency for the process and answers to your questions.

Remember to flip the switch! You are the first step to energy conservation and it makes a difference!