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Delegate calls for oversight on power lines

A Frederick County delegate is proposing a state law to provide more oversight of overhead power lines. Delegate Sue Hecht recently introduced a bill to address concerns about liability and ownership of high-voltage transmission lines. Such a line is proposed to run through southern Frederick County and faces opposition from several community groups.

ANNAPOLIS - A Frederick County delegate is proposing a state law to provide more oversight of overhead power lines.

Delegate Sue Hecht recently introduced a bill to address concerns about liability and ownership of high-voltage transmission lines.

Such a line is proposed to run through southern Frederick County and faces opposition from several community groups.

The Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline is a joint venture of American Electric Power and Allegheny Energy to build a new high-voltage transmission line that would run through West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland.

Unlike other lawmakers who oppose PATH, Hecht said she does not want to stop PATH entirely.

"My job is to make sure everybody has lights to turn on this year, next year and 10 years from now," Hecht said. "But I think this bill will help if we're going to look at a transmission line."

Hecht, a Democrat, is a member of the House Economic Matters Committee, which considers legislation related to power.

The bill will require adequate liability insurance for transmission lines carrying more than 69,000 volts. It would also better define an electric company in the law.

The project was turned down last... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

ANNAPOLIS - A Frederick County delegate is proposing a state law to provide more oversight of overhead power lines.

Delegate Sue Hecht recently introduced a bill to address concerns about liability and ownership of high-voltage transmission lines.

Such a line is proposed to run through southern Frederick County and faces opposition from several community groups.

The Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline is a joint venture of American Electric Power and Allegheny Energy to build a new high-voltage transmission line that would run through West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland.

Unlike other lawmakers who oppose PATH, Hecht said she does not want to stop PATH entirely.

"My job is to make sure everybody has lights to turn on this year, next year and 10 years from now," Hecht said. "But I think this bill will help if we're going to look at a transmission line."

Hecht, a Democrat, is a member of the House Economic Matters Committee, which considers legislation related to power.

The bill will require adequate liability insurance for transmission lines carrying more than 69,000 volts. It would also better define an electric company in the law.

The project was turned down last year in Maryland when the utility company filed the application as PATH Allegheny.

In Maryland, only Potomac Edison, an established electric company, can file for such a project. This time, the utility company filed as Potomac Edison, but said that entity would own only 5 percent of the project, but would be responsible for construction, maintenance and operation of PATH.

The Maryland Public Service Commission is considering whether that arrangement follows the law.

If the application is accepted as is, the Sugarloaf Conservancy, a local group opposed to PATH, believes there could be ramifications in the community.

Sugarloaf Conservancy President Doug Kaplan brought the matter to Frederick County's delegation of state lawmakers earlier this year.

One of his major concerns is the idea that a limited liability company could declare bankruptcy in the case of a major fire or other disaster in connection with the line.

An energy company such as Potomac Edison would be a larger, more established company that could handle any such issues, he said.

He thinks lawmakers should clarify their intent, rather than wait for the PSC to make a ruling based on current law.

"We realized this was going to be a problem of how do you define this entity electric company," he said.

Hecht crafted her bill to address the liability question particularly by requiring adequate insurance coverage.

Her bill could require PATH to submit another application to the Maryland Public Service Commission, she said.

"I feel these are important consumer protections as we move forward," Hecht said.

Her bill is separate from a bill filed in the state Senate addressing many of the same concerns.

The House of Delegates has not scheduled a committee hearing on Hecht's bill.


Source: http://www.fredericknewspos...

MAR 16 2010
https://www.windaction.org/posts/25176-delegate-calls-for-oversight-on-power-lines
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