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Transource changes route for part of 230-kV transmission project in PJM

The developer of a set of 230-kV transmission lines across the Pennsylvania-Maryland border has a new plan for one segment of the project that will involve two other regional utilities.

Transource Energy LLC on Oct. 17 told regulators in both states that it is making use of existing transmission infrastructure and right-of-way for the eastern segment of the Independence Energy Connection, or IEC. The region's grid operator, PJM Interconnection, in 2016 picked the project to address congestion and improve market efficiency.

The updated proposal maintains plans for 25 miles of 230-kV line between a new substation in Franklin County, Pa., and an existing substation in Washington County, Md., a segment known as IEC West. What has changed are plans to build 15 miles of 230-kV line between a new substation in York County, Pa., and an existing substation in Harford County, Md., a segment called IEC East.

Now, the IEC East portion of the project will involve upgrades to existing infrastructure by Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., or BGE; upgrades and new infrastructure from PPL Electric Utilities Corp.; and construction of a new substation in Pennsylvania by Transource Energy.

Transource Energy said the alternative route has the support of several project stakeholders, including state agencies and local landowners. The Maryland Public Service Commission and Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission will consider the new proposed route along with the original route, the company said.

"We appreciate the state agencies, incumbent utilities and landowner input received when developing this alternative," Transource Director Todd Burns, said in a statement.

Transource Energy filed the original applications to build the IEC project with the two-state commissions in December 2017. Groups formed to protest the project, while others advocated for alternatives to the proposal. The company worked with stakeholders over the summer to evaluate alternatives and came to several agreements.

In its case before the Maryland commission (Maryland PSC Case No. 9471), Transource Energy subsidiary Transource Maryland LLC asked regulators to adopt a settlement approving a certificate of public convenience and necessity for the company to build the IEC West portion of the project. The settlement also asks regulators to grant BGE's requests for waivers of the CPCN requirements for "good cause" to upgrade two segments of its existing transmission infrastructure to build the alternative configuration of the IEC East portion of the project.

Under the new plan, BGE will build, own and maintain the IEC East segment within its existing utility rights-of-way. The Exelon Corp. subsidiary will add a second 230-kV circuit on the existing Otter Creek-Conastone 230-kV line. BGE will also replace eight lattice structures that now hold the single-circuit Manor-Graceton 230-kV line with approximately eight monopole structures, which would then carry a second 230-kV line.

Transource Maryland will continue to construct, own and maintain the IEC West segment.

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, the developer filed three settlements in its case before the state regulators (Pennsylvania PUC Docket Nos. A-2017-2640195; A-2017-2640200) in support of the new plan.

Transource Pennsylvania's settlement with PPL Electric has a similar structure to the Maryland filings. Under the deal, the PPL Corp. subsidiary will construct, own and operate the reconfigured 230-kV lines of the project. Transource Pennsylvania is responsible for building, owning and operating the Furnace Run substation and all portions of the IEC West segment in Pennsylvania.

PPL Electric and Transource Pennsylvania plan to file a joint amended application by Jan. 31, 2020.

Under terms of the settlement, PPL Electric will reroute the existing Manor-Graceton 230-kV line from both Manor and Graceton to end at the Furnace Run substation, creating a Furnace Run-Manor 230-kV line and a Furnace Run-Graceton #1 230-kV line. The utility will also build a new Furnace Run-Graceton #2 230-kV circuit.

The settlement also calls for PPL Electric to reroute the Conastone-Otter Creek 230-kV line from both Otter Creek and Conastone to end at the Furnace Run substation, creating a Furnace Run-Otter Creek 230-kV line and a Furnace-Run Conastone #1 230-kV circuit. PPL Electric will also build a new Furnace Run-Conastone #2 230-kV line.

Transource Energy is owned by American Electric Power Co. Inc. and Evergy Inc.