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Delmarva Power Proposes Choptank Route for MAPP Project

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

River route would minimize impact on Dorchester County

SALISBURY, Md. – Pepco Holdings, Inc. (PHI), the parent company of Delmarva Power, today announced that after considerable public input and months of study, the company has proposed the Choptank Route through Dorchester County, Md., for the Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway (MAPP) project.

MAPP, a proposed high-voltage transmission line that will help bring reliable and affordable power to the Delmarva Peninsula, will run from northern Virginia, across southern Maryland, under the Chesapeake Bay, through Dorchester and Wicomico counties in Maryland, and end near Millsboro, Del.

Under the proposed route announced today, the Dorchester County portion of the line will follow the Choptank River underwater and make landfall east of Cambridge, Md. The line will run underground until reaching a point southeast of Route 16. It will then transition to above ground northeast of Route 50 before crossing over the Nanticoke River near Vienna, Md. For the land portion of the route through Dorchester County, the company has been successful in acquiring the majority of the necessary rights-of-way to construct the line. A map is available at (www.powerpathway.com).

"We’ve spent a great deal of time listening to the citizens of Dorchester County", said Bob Jubic, MAPP project manager. "With input from landowners, residents, environmental groups and government officials, we believe that the Choptank Route is the best choice as it minimizes the impact on the environment, agriculture and culturally significant areas in the county."

After hearing the public’s comments, PHI charted a route that will avoid sensitive sites such as the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and the proposed Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historic Park. "We were asked by the community to explore the possibility of bringing the power line up a waterway instead of over land. As we looked at alternatives more closely, the Choptank River became a real alternative," Jubic said.

Allen Nelson, Executive Director of the Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce, said the Choptank Route is the best option. "This company has sincerely tried to come up with some options that address many of our concerns", said Nelson, who also chaired the MAPP Community Advisory Council that was established to provide feedback on the project. "I have been impressed with the amount of time and effort they have put into looking at alternatives. We have come a long way and the Choptank Route is clearly the best choice."

Working with local watermen, PHI mapped, surveyed and selected an underwater route that avoids a majority of the oyster beds in the area. PHI must mitigate for any oyster beds that are disturbed. The company expects to continue working with local watermen on that phase of the project.

"This project could be a real boost to the oyster population in the Choptank River and the Bay and we’re encouraged that it may mean some of our local watermen will find work in the process," said Ben Parks, President of the Dorchester Seafood Harvesters Association. Jubic said construction will minimize the impact on fishing and will avoid environmentally sensitive periods such as migration or spawning seasons.

"The proposed Choptank Route is substantially different from earlier plans," Jubic said. "We have reduced the length of the overhead portion of the line by nearly two-thirds and, for the majority of the route, shortened the poles from an average of 125 feet high, down to approximately 100 feet." In addition, the river route minimizes the impact on farmland.

The MAPP line will fill a significant void in the region’s high-voltage transmission system. "Currently, on the Delmarva Peninsula, no such high-voltage transmission lines exist," Jubic said. "The transmission system on the Peninsula requires an upgrade. MAPP will help meet the region’s need for reliable and affordable energy."

The project, including the route, requires approvals from federal and state agencies, including the Maryland Public Service Commission. PHI’s selection of a proposed route is a necessary step in the formal agency review and approval process. Interested persons may comment through public hearings to be scheduled by these agencies later in the process, as well as written remarks. Construction will begin when PHI has obtained all required permits and authorizations.

Maps of the Choptank Route and other information will be on display to the public at the Holiday Inn Express in Cambridge, Md., on May 12 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Information booths will be set up to allow residents to find out more about the route. Those who cannot stop by the Holiday Inn Express also can visit the MAPP office at 828 Airpax Road, Suite B700, in Cambridge, Md. MAPP office hours are Mondays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, call the MAPP office at (410) 221-6207 or go to www.powerpathway.com.

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Delmarva Power, a public utility owned by Pepco Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: POM), provides safe and reliable energy to nearly 500,000 electric delivery customers in Delaware and Maryland and over 121,000 natural gas delivery customers in northern Delaware