Frederick Planning Commission Says No to Substation

According to this report in the Frederick News-Post, the Frederick County Planning Commission voted 6-0 on a motion that the Kemptown Substation at the eastern end of the PATH line is not consistent with the County’s development plan.

The article also clarifies the zoning situation in Frederick County, MD.  The County Planning Commission is a separate agency from the County’s Zoning Board of Appeals.  It is the Zoning Board which must grant AEP/Allegheny a zoning waiver for the substation, not the Planning Commission.  The Zoning Board meets on Sept. 29 to hear the waiver case.

Things aren’t going too well for the power companies in Frederick County right now.  If the Zoning Board also rules against the substation zoning waiver, the battle lines will be drawn with the MD PSC, which claims only the PSC can control where the substation can go.

The MD PSC claims that the substation is part of the PATH transmission line, and that the PSC’s authority to site power lines gives it sole control over the substation.  As you can read in this morning’s New-Post article, an Allegheny spokesman said that the substation was located near Frederick because that is where a number of high voltage lines converge.

Clearly, the substation is its own industrial facility, and is not built just to serve PATH.  If the Zoning Board refuses to allow the substation waiver, get ready for a court fight. 

The Frederick County Commission has already put the MD PSC on notice that the MD PSC has no jurisdiction over the siting of the Kemptown Substation.

Here’s what the Commissioners told the PSC in their October 5, 2009 letter:

… the PSC has no jurisdiction to determine the Board’s authority, or that of local government in general, over the location of proposed electric substations.


Regardless of the PSC’s comments in Order No. 82892, Potomac Edison must obtain a finding of consistency and special exception from Frederick County Government before it may locate its proposed electric substation in Frederick County, Maryland.

It doesn’t get any clearer than that.

The “finding of consistency” that the Frederick County Board of Commissioners referred to in its October 5 letter was the vote taken last night by the County Planning Board.  As described above, the Planning Commission voted 6-0 in its finding that the Kemptown Substation was not “consistent” with the county’s development plan.  So Allegheny and its Potomac Edison front have failed their first test in Frederick County, MD.  Now it’s off to the Zoning Board on Sept. 29.