Fight over powerline costs could reignite in Delaware

 The Salem Hope Creek nuclear power plant in New Jersey seen from the Delaware side of the river. This is close to where a proposed underwater powerline would be buried in the river. (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

The Salem Hope Creek nuclear power plant in New Jersey seen from the Delaware side of the river. This is close to where a proposed underwater powerline would be buried in the river. (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

A stalled powerline construction project at Artificial Island in New Jersey could soon be restarted. Delaware leaders plan to fight.

Last August, PJM Interconnection suspended plans to construct a 230-kilovolt line from the Artificial Island nuclear complex in southern New Jersey to Delaware as a way to improve system reliability. The powerline would have been buried under the Delaware River in a unique construction process. Delaware and Maryland leaders objected to the costs rate payers in their states would have to pay.

After a six month review, a PJM committee has recommended the project move forward after all. The full PJM board will vote on that recommendation on April 6. Despite some changes in the project’s scope and total cost, Delaware Gov. John Carney will continue to oppose the plan.

“This project, as currently financed, would place an unjust burden on Delaware residential and industrial ratepayers,” Carney said. “This is not a good deal for Delaware.” Carney plans to work with the state’s federal delegation, the Public Service Commission and the General Assembly to oppose the cost allocation which is established by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The recommendation was praised by LS Power, the company contracted to do the construction work. “PJM staff should be commended for thoughtfully sorting through the important issues and recommending the best solution in the interest of system reliability and consumers,” the company said in a statement.

LS Power’s statement detailed the cost changes included in the PJM recommendations, which were reduced by more than $150 million compared to the proposal that was moving forward last year.

PJM will receive comments from stakeholders on the plans until March 31. The board will vote on the recommendations on April 6.

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