An article in Delmarva Now, MAPP Completion Date Pushed Back to 2019, gets just about everything wrong, starting with the headline. PJM's letter to PEPCO made this statement about MAPP's in-service date, "Based on these latest results, the PJM Board has decided to hold the MAPP project in abeyance, retaining it in its 2011 RTEP with a 2019-2021 in-service date." The "new completion date" is an uncertain three year period, not 2019. Read The Power Line's post about MAPP and PJM's long-term forecasting, which relies on extrapolations, and not known facts.
The article also blames the abeyance of the project on "changes in electricity usage." There are a whole bunch of factors in play here, "electricity usage" is way down on the list of uncertainties and certainly not an accurate portrayal of main reason for the delay. PJM gets the blame for this misinformation. Check this quote from PJM's Ray Dotter, "Our board's decision is not to cancel the project but to do enough to keep it alive," said Ray Dotter, spokesman for PJM. "There is so much uncertainty that we need to be constantly looking at usage." So, what does the PJM Board consider to be the technical, real number definition of "do enough to keep it alive"? Will we see a revised projected transmission revenue requirement for the MAPP project? How much more ratepayer funding is going to be poured down the uncertain MAPP rat hole, exactly?
The cost of the project stated in the article is off by more than a billion dollars. Actual cost is estimated at $1.2B, not $1.2M.
"The MAPP was proposed as a way to offset eventual system overloads and blackouts when system predictions were created in previous years. Newer models, however, show mass power outages are not likely until after 2015."
Wow! Blackouts and mass power outages after 2015? What a bunch of crap! Sensationalism at its best! "Mass power outages" are not likely at all, ever. The power companies have been using "blackouts" to fear monger support for their unneeded transmission projects for years. Reality is that "violations" MAPP is supposed to fix could only happen if a whole bunch of stuff is taken offline at the same time, a very unlikely scenario. There are cheaper and easier fixes for these unlikely scenarios than building a $1.2B new transmission line. MAPP is overkill based on unlikely scenarios.
"Creation of wind farms off the Maryland and Delaware coasts could also accelerate the need for the MAPP to transport energy they create throughout the mid-Atlantic."
This is also completely ludicrous. Off shore wind farms aren't going to create a future need to pump wind power to Dominion's Possum Point converted gas-fired generating plant's substation, where MAPP currently originates. Just because the plan for MAPP exists does not mean that reversing it's beginning and end creates a feasible or effective plan to distribute off shore wind energy. If we're going to invest billions in off shore wind, that project deserves its own set of transmission plans, not some leftover plan hanging around at PJM that was intended to "increase the use of coal-fired resources" when it was created in 2005.
Here's a different, but similar, article from The News Journal that also goes off the rails beginning with the headline, Delmarva power line project pushed back - Recession cuts demand, delays three-state pathway until 2015. It contains much of the same misinformation from PJM and PEPCO spokesmen.
Here's a slightly better article, with a huge Freudian slip in the first sentence. Thanks, Star Democrat, for a great new phrase: "Pepco is asking a state panel reviewing a transmillion line project that would extend through Dorchester County to temporarily delay its review." Transmillion lines aptly describes these kind of projects, which score huge profits for their investors that are paid for by electric customers.
See also PEPCO's letter asking the Maryland PSC to suspend activity on their application for one year. In this letter, PEPCO goes into even greater detail about all the uncertainties that have thrown their plans up in the air. They try mightily to make the PSC believe these uncertainties could only lead to an earlier need for their project. The truth behind these "uncertainties" is that need for the project at all is the greatest uncertainty. Here are the factors that have buggered up PEPCO's plans: No currently projected reliability violations before 2019; public policy initiatives (state Renewable Portfolio Standards); the type and location of future generation; generation retirements and additions; implementation of FERC Order No. 1000's mandated changes to planning and cost allocation; electric demand; the new EPA Clean Air rules; a six-year lead time to order underwater cables needed to cross the Bay; federal & state environmental permits needed; and increasing demand response programs.
Their logic on demand response programs increasing need for MAPP is completely preposterous! PEPCO says that the more demand response resources available, the greater the risk that all these resources could decide to drop out at once and fry the grid by turning everything back on, and therefore they should be completely ignored in the planning process for new transmission. Oh, come on -- that is completely absurd! Is this a look at how PJM is going to start viewing demand response in their planning process? The Delmarva Now article includes this gem from PEPCO, "Other factors, such as hotter summer days and colder winter nights, could limit the number of customers participating in load management programs, driving up electricity use and demand."
PEPCO also says they need at least 6 years lead time to have underwater cables manufactured and therefore PJM has ordered them to proceed with "certain developmental activities reasonably necessary to allow MAPP to be quickly re-started..."
PJM thinks PEPCO should continue to spend the ratepayers' money on a project that is completely uncertain at this time. Looks like PEPCO is spending ratepayer money just about as wisely as PATH has been spending it. PEPCO is also dumping millions on stupid PR campaigns.
Now we've got two of these unneeded zombie projects in PJM's "abeyance" la-la land where financing the projects will continue to increase consumers' electric bills through recovery via FERC formula rates and provide huge profits to their power company developers through FERC Transmission Incentives. Enough is enough!