General Assembly Journal 2006-8
The Utility Consumer Protection Act
Dear Tentacle Readers,
In store today, a new approach to this journal. Below you will find the actual text of my bill, House Bill 260, The Utility Consumer Protection Act. Below that you’ll find my testimony in support of the bill. It is scheduled for a hearing tomorrow before the Economic Matters Committee. The numbers listed are line numbers so that legislators don’t get lost.
This should give you a sense of what a legislative committee member faces, but remember that I don’t have access to the opposition testimony (and count on the utility companies to object). Also, a standard daily committee hearing lasts for 5-7 hours, and includes hours of witness testimony.
UNOFFICIAL COPY OF HOUSE BILL 260
By: Delegate Weldon
Introduced and read first time: January 25, 2006
Assigned to: Economic Matters
A BILL ENTITLED
1 AN ACT concerning
2 Utility Consumer Protection Act of 2006
3 FOR the purpose of requiring a public service company or applicant to provide certain
4 notice to owners of land located within a certain distance of certain proposed
5 lines, generating stations, and transmission devices within a certain time period
6 under certain circumstances; and generally relating to proceedings for
7 certificates of public convenience and necessity for proposed transmission lines
8 and generating stations.
9 BY repealing and reenacting, with amendments,
10 Article - Public Utility Companies
11 Section 7-204(a), 7-207(c), and 7-208(d)(1)
12 Annotated Code of Maryland
13 (1998 Volume and 2005 Supplement)
14 BY repealing and reenacting, without amendments,
15 Article - Public Utility Companies
16 Section 7-208(a) and (b)
17 Annotated Code of Maryland
18 (1998 Volume and 2005 Supplement)
19 SECTION 1. BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF
20 MARYLAND, That the Laws of Maryland read as follows:
21 Article - Public Utility Companies
23 (a) (1) Notwithstanding any other provision of this article, [at least 30 days
24 before a hearing, a public service company] WITHIN 30 DAYS AFTER FILING AN
25 APPLICATION WITH THE COMMISSION, A PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY OR APPLICANT
26 shall provide to each owner of [land,] LAND LOCATED WHOLLY OR PARTLY WITHIN
27 2,500 FEET OF THE PROPOSED LINE OR TRANSMISSION DEVICE, by certified mail,
2 UNOFFICIAL COPY OF HOUSE BILL 260
1 written notice of intent to run a line or similar transmission device over, on, or under
2 the land.
3 (2) The public service company shall determine the property owners
4 from the current tax assessment records of the political subdivision in which the
5 property is located.
7 (c) (1) [On] WITHIN 30 DAYS AFTER receipt of an application for a
8 certificate of public convenience and necessity under this section, the Commission
9 shall provide notice to the Department of [Planning] PLANNING, EACH OWNER OF
10 LAND LOCATED WHOLLY OR PARTLY WITHIN 2,500 FEET OF A PROPOSED
11 GENERATING STATION OR TRANSMISSION LINE, and to all other interested persons.
12 (2) The Department of Planning shall forward the application to each
13 appropriate State unit and unit of local government for review, evaluation, and
14 comment regarding the significance of the proposal to State, area-wide, and local
15 plans or programs.
17 (a) This section applies to any person:
18 (1) constructing a generating station and its associated overhead
19 transmission lines designed to carry a voltage in excess of 69,000 volts; or
20 (2) exercising the right of condemnation in connection with the
22 (b) (1) To obtain the certificate of public convenience and necessity required
23 under § 7-207 of this subtitle for construction under this section, a person shall file
24 an application with the Commission at least 2 years before construction of the facility
25 will commence.
26 (2) The Commission may waive the 2-year requirement on a showing of
27 good cause.
28 (d) (1) [On the] WITHIN 30 DAYS AFTER receipt of an application under this
29 section, together with any additional information requested under subsection (c)(2) of
30 this section, the Commission shall provide notice to:
31 (I) EACH OWNER OF LAND LOCATED WHOLLY OR PARTLY WITHIN
32 2,500 FEET OF A PROPOSED GENERATING STATION OR TRANSMISSION LINE;
33 [(i)] (II) all interested persons;
34 [(ii)] (III) the Department of Agriculture;
35 [(iii)] (IV) the Department of Business and Economic Development;
3 UNOFFICIAL COPY OF HOUSE BILL 260
1 [(iv)] (V) the Department of the Environment;
2 [(v)] (VI) the Department of Natural Resources;
3 [(vi)] (VII) the Department of Transportation; and
4 [(vii)] (VIII) the Department of Planning.
5 SECTION 2. AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That this Act shall take effect
6 October 1, 2006.
This bill places emphasis on the importance of communication practices that improve effectiveness and efficiency. The regulatory process should be participatory, with input from all stakeholders – that includes industry and members of the public being affected by industry. This communication should include direct expressions of opinion, healthy debate and discussion, and, if possible, the development and presentation of alternatives.
Even though industry and the public may not always agree, Maryland should ensure an open dialogue, so that difficult issues can be resolved in a spirit of cooperation. Effective processes for meaningful public participation and intervention will increase objectivity, provide transparency in decision-making and maintain public confidence.
Examples of Success: Before BG&E made application to modify transmission infrastructure on right-of-ways that they owned (PSC Case #9050), BG&E notified adjacent property owners several months in advance of filing their application.
Constellation sought public input in their Calvert Cliffs license renewal.
A good example of the results of failing to include the community is what prompted this bill: PSC Case #9018 where Allegheny did not notify the community or affected property owners prior to filing application in Sept. 2005. In fact, Allegheny waited so late after the application was filed to notify anyone, that without - regulatory or my (meaning you) - intervention, it was impossible for citizens to effectively participate in the CPCN process.
When Allegheny did give late notice, it only notified 3 families. This caused substantial delays and unique circumstances for the PSC hearing officer to address. As of this date, the CPCN ruling has not been made. This case demonstrates that once the application is filed, the applicant is extremely reluctant to make changes or accommodate a community’s concerns.
Some comments by the Attorney General’s office regarding Allegheny’s actions during the CPCN proceeding: (see Table of Contents bold wording)
Wrap UP: Allegheny has now indicated that they would follow a community outreach model. However, without regulations how can we be sure based on Allegheny’s recent behavior: The attached red comments clearly question Allegheny’s reliability and credibility.
Table of Contents page from the Office of the Attorney General on
Allegany Power’s plan for Urbana Transmission Loop Project
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. Allegheny Has Developed an Unacceptable Proposal in Isolation,
Refusing To Cooperate or
Consult with Interested Parties or the Public
A. Allegheny Power Failed to Properly Notify Affected
B. Allegheny Power Failed to Consider Local Concerns
C. Allegheny Power Failed to Coordinate with Frederick
County Regarding its Proposed Route
D. Frederick County Recommended that the Application be
E. Allegheny Opposed the Stakeholder Engagement
Process to Elicit Community Opinion
II. Allegheny Power’s Proposed Transmission Line Route Imposes
Impacts on the Environment and the Urbana Community
A. The Proposed Route Would Harm Maryland Ecology Through
Forest Fragmentation and Habitat Destruction
B. The Proposed Route Causes Unacceptable Visual Impacts
C. The Proposed Route is Inconsistent with Urbana’s Present
Needs and Future Development
D. Allegheny Power’s Routing Methodology Is Simplistic and
Flawed and Should Not be Relied Upon by the Commission to
E. DNR’s Expert on Transmission Line
Siting Confirmed that Allegheny’s
Methodology is Flawed and Unreliable
F. Allegheny Power’s After the Fact Visual Analysis Adds No
Value to Its Flawed Methodology
G. Mr. Westergard’s Visual Simulations Proved Biased and Not
III. DNR’s Suggested Modifications to Allegheny’s Route
Mitigate Some of its Harmful Impacts
A. DNR’s Suggested Modifications Mitigate Environmental Harm
by Following Existing Rights of Way
IV. Allegheny’s Cost Estimates and Analysis of
Alternatives Are Not Credible
A. Allegheny Needlessly Inflated the Cost of the 34.5 kV Overbuild
Alternative by Failing to Make Small Modifications to the Route
B. Allegheny Significantly Increased its Cost Estimates for All
Proposed Routes Except AP-2
C. Allegheny’s Cost Estimate for Building a New
Substation is Exaggerated
D. Allegheny’s Witnesses Expressed Bias for the Company’s Route
V. Allegheny Overstates the Need for the Current Project
VI. The Cost to Maryland Ratepayers of Mitigation Measures is
Next week, a review of what happened during the bill hearing.