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The Maryland Public Service Commission conditionally granted a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to Dominion Cove Point to construct a generating station Friday, one of the major approvals necessary for the proposed expansion project at Dominion Cove Point in Lusby.

The generating system consisting of two 65-megawatt steam turbine generators would be built to support the proposed liquefaction facilities at the plant to export liquefied natural gas.

The conditional PSC decision came two weeks after another major approval for the controversial expansion project: the conditional approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the commission’s release of an environmental assessment.

But the PSC determined that the project as proposed does not “provide net economic benefit to Maryland citizens,” according to page 4 of the report. Because of that finding, the PSC changed the proposed conditions to include additional funding for the development of clean energy programs and greenhouse gas mitigation.

Dominion is now required to contribute $40 million throughout five years to the state’s Strategic Energy Investment Fund and $8 million throughout 20 years to the Maryland Energy Assistance Program. Since the generating station is being built to service the proposed expansion project, the PSC’s order also requires final approval from FERC for the expansion itself, according to a PSC press release.

In addition, Dominion is required by the PSC to develop an updated emergency response plan for the expansion, according to a press release from the PSC.

Dominion Cove Point has 10 days to decide to accept or reject the conditions set by the PSC, spokesman Karl Neddenien said Monday.

“The fact that the Maryland PSC issued a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity means it is declaring that if the conditions it has incorporated are met, the project would be a net benefit to the citizens of Maryland,” Neddenien said.

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network announced Friday it would appeal to Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and the Department of Natural Resources to conduct a human safety study in response to the PSC ruling.

The $3.8 billion export project is expected to bring an additional $40 million per year in tax revenue to Calvert County and hundreds of construction jobs, but concerns have been raised about the safety of the plant and its effect on the environment.

“The PSC expressed concern for the safety of people living closest to the proposed plant but failed to actually protect these people,” said Mike Tidwell, director of CCAN. “... This export facility should not be built. The PSC confirmed it’s a harm to consumers and the environment.”

Dominion asserts the expansion will be built within state and federal emissions requirements.

“The air emissions from Cove Point will comply with stringent health-based federal and state limits and requirements while the LNG will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in two countries that are striving to clean their air while continuing to grow their economies,” said Diane Leopold, president of Dominion Energy, in a press release.

In a statement released by the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners, the board affirmed its support of the project.

“The PSC approval is another major milestone for the project,” according to the statement. “The Board of County Commissioners remains in unanimous support of the proposed expansion project and looks forward to the day the facility is placed in service.”

sfleischman@somdnews.com