[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 43 (Friday, March 4, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Pages 12088-12090]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-4878]


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DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY


Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for 
a Proposed Federal Loan Guarantee To Support Construction of Phase II 
of the Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway Transmission Line Project, in 
Maryland and Delaware

AGENCY: Department of Energy, Loan Programs Office.

ACTION: Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement 
and Conduct Public Scoping Meetings; Notice of Proposed Floodplain 
Action.

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SUMMARY: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announces its intent to 
prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) (DOE/EIS-0465), 
pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended 
(NEPA), the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) NEPA regulations, 
and the DOE NEPA implementing procedures, to assess the potential 
environmental impacts of its proposed action of issuing a Federal loan 
guarantee to Pepco Holdings, Inc. (PHI). Potomac Electric Power Company 
(Pepco) and Delmarva Power & Light Company (Delmarva), both 
subsidiaries of PHI, submitted an application to DOE under the Federal 
loan guarantee program pursuant to the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 
2005) to support construction of Phase II of the Mid-Atlantic Power 
Pathway (MAPP) transmission line project. PHI proposes to develop Phase 
II of the MAPP project, an approximately 100-mile electric transmission 
line from the Chalk Point Substation in Prince George's County, 
Maryland, to the Indian River Substation in Sussex County, Delaware, 
using a High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission system.
    The EIS will evaluate the potential environmental impacts of the 
issuance of a DOE Loan Guarantee for PHI's proposed MAPP project and 
the range of reasonable alternatives.
    The purposes of this Notice of Intent are to inform the public 
about DOE's proposed action, invite public participation in the EIS 
process, announce plans for public scoping meetings, and solicit public 
comments for consideration in establishing the scope and content of the 
EIS. DOE hereby provides notice of a proposed action located in part in 
a floodplain and that DOE will include a floodplain assessment in the 
EIS.
    DOE invites those agencies with jurisdiction by law or special 
expertise to be cooperating agencies.

DATES: The public scoping period will begin with publication of this 
Notice of Intent and end on April 4, 2011. To ensure that all of the 
issues related to this proposal are addressed, DOE invites comments on 
the proposed scope and content of the EIS from all interested parties. 
Comments must be postmarked or e-mailed by April 4, 2011 to ensure 
consideration. Late comments will be considered to the extent 
practicable.

ADDRESSES: Public comments can be submitted electronically or by U.S. 
Mail. Written comments on the proposed EIS scope should be signed and 
addressed to the NEPA Document Manager for this project: Mr. Doug 
Boren, Loan Programs Office (LP-10), U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 
Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20585. Electronic submission 
of comments is encouraged due to processing time required for regular 
mail. Comments can be submitted electronically by sending an e-mail to: 
MAPP-EIS@hq.doe.gov. All electronic and written comments should 
reference DOE/EIS-0465.
    DOE will conduct three public scoping meetings in the vicinity of 
the proposed MAPP project at which government agencies, private-sector 
organizations, and the general public are invited to provide comments 
or suggestions with regard to the alternatives and potential impacts to 
be considered in the EIS. The date, time, and location of the public 
scoping meetings will be announced in local news media and on the DOE 
Loan Programs Office ``NEPA Public Involvement'' Web site (http://www.lgprogram.energy.gov/NEPA_PI.html) and the DOE NEPA Website 
``Public Participation'' Calendar (http://nepa.energy.gov/calendar.htm) 
at least 15 days prior to the date of the meetings.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: To obtain additional information about 
this EIS, the public scoping meetings, or to receive a copy of the 
draft EIS when it is issued, contact Doug Boren by telephone: 202-287-
5346; or electronic mail: Douglas.Boren@hq.doe.gov. For general 
information on the DOE NEPA process, please contact: Ms. Carol M. 
Borgstrom, Director, Office of NEPA

[[Page 12089]]

Policy and Compliance (GC-54), U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 
Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20585; telephone: 202-586-
4600; facsimile: 202-586-7031; electronic mail: askNEPA@hq.doe.gov; or 
leave a toll-free message at 800-472-2756.
    Additional information is available on the DOE Loan Programs Office 
``NEPA Public Involvement'' Web site (http://www.lgprogram.energy.gov/NEPA_PI.html) and the DOE NEPA Web site (http://nepa.energy.gov/).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    EPAct 2005 established a Federal loan guarantee program for 
eligible energy projects that employ innovative technologies. Title 
XVII of EPAct 2005 authorizes the Secretary of Energy to make loan 
guarantees for a variety of types of projects, including those that 
``avoid, reduce, or sequester air pollutants or anthropogenic emissions 
of greenhouse gases; and employ new or significantly improved 
technologies as compared to commercial technologies in service in the 
United States at the time the guarantee is issued.'' The two principal 
goals of the loan guarantee program are to encourage commercial use in 
the United States of new or significantly improved energy-related 
technologies and to achieve substantial environmental benefits. On June 
30, 2008, the DOE Loan Guarantee Program Office issued a solicitation 
for projects employing energy efficiency, renewable energy, and 
advanced transmission and distribution technologies that constitute New 
or Significantly Improved Technologies. Pepco and Delmarva submitted an 
application to DOE for a loan guarantee in February 2009, to support 
construction of Phase II of the MAPP project.
    Phase II of the MAPP project would incorporate new smart grid 
technology that includes an HVDC system; microprocessor-based relays; 
digital fault recorders; and phasor measurement units. The smart grid 
technology to be incorporated into the MAPP project would promote the 
transmission of energy over the line more efficiently and gives PJM 
Interconnection, L.L.C. (PJM), the area electric grid operator, 
additional control over power flows and power stability in the eastern 
portion of PJM. The project would provide a solution to critical 
reliability and congestion issues triggered by limited transmission 
capacity in PJM.
    Due to the number of jurisdictions within PJM with Renewable 
Portfolio Standards, the future amount of renewable energy generation 
within PJM is expected to increase. By reducing grid congestion and 
increasing grid efficiency, the MAPP project enables the potential 
expansion of clean energy sources and renewables into the system, and 
may allow for the decommissioning of older electric generation units.

Purpose and Need for Agency Action

    The purpose and need for action by DOE is to comply with its 
mandate under EPAct 2005 by selecting eligible projects that meet the 
goals of the Act, as summarized above. The EIS will inform DOE's 
decision whether to issue a loan guarantee to PHI to support the 
construction of the proposed MAPP project.

Proposed Action

    DOE's proposed action is to issue a loan guarantee to PHI to 
support construction of Phase II of the MAPP project. Phase II of the 
MAPP project can be separated into four segments. The first segment is 
a proposed 500 kilovolt (kV) alternating current (AC) transmission line 
from the existing Chalk Point Substation, in Prince George's County, 
Maryland, crossing the Patuxent River to a proposed AC-to-direct 
current (DC) converter station (Chestnut Converter) in Calvert County, 
Maryland. This segment is approximately 10.6 miles long and would be 
installed overhead within an existing transmission line right-of-way 
(ROW).
    The second segment would be from the Chestnut Converter station to 
a proposed converter station (Gateway Converter) in Wicomico County, 
Maryland. Segment two would consist of two, 320 kV, DC transmission 
circuits and would be installed underground within existing ROW in 
Calvert County and then under the Chesapeake Bay and the Choptank 
River, and would cross the Delmarva Peninsula overhead through 
Dorchester County, Maryland, to the Gateway Converter in Wicomico 
County, Maryland. The Calvert County underground portion of the 
circuits will be approximately 2.6 miles long and the submarine 
crossing of the bay and river would be approximately 39 miles. Once 
this segment makes landfall in Dorchester County, Maryland, it would be 
installed underground for approximately one mile and then overhead for 
approximately 14 miles, crossing the Nanticoke River near the town of 
Vienna, Maryland, before ending at the proposed Gateway Converter. This 
entire segment would be located within new transmission line ROW.
    Segment three consists of one of the two DC circuits continuing 
overhead past the Gateway Converter in Wicomico County to a proposed 
converter station (Mission Converter) in Sussex County, Delaware. This 
segment would be approximately 26 miles, installed above ground, and 
located within an existing transmission line ROW.
    Segment four is a 230 kV AC overhead transmission line constructed 
between the proposed Mission Converter and the existing Indian River 
Substation in Sussex County, Delaware. This segment would be located 
within existing ROW and is approximately 6 miles in length. In 
addition, segment four would also include two approximately 1-mile 230 
kV AC overhead transmission lines to be constructed between the 
proposed Mission Converter and an existing transmission line to the 
south. These 1-mile transmission lines would be installed on applicant 
owned property but would include new transmission structures. 
Additional project descriptions and project location maps (depicting 
the proposed route by county) may be found on the applicant's Web site 
at http://www.powerpathway.com.

Alternatives

    DOE currently plans to analyze in detail the MAPP project proposed 
by PHI and the No Action alternative. As appropriate, DOE will also 
analyze alternatives to portions of the project, such as alternative 
routes and river crossings, which could lessen or avoid impacts to 
affected resources and mitigation measures.
    Under the No Action alternative, DOE would not provide the loan 
guarantee to PHI. In this case, PHI may have difficulty obtaining 
financing for the MAPP project, which may result in a delay or 
cancellation of the project. Although PHI may still pursue the project 
without the loan guarantee, for purposes of this NEPA analysis, the No 
Action alternative will be a no project or no build scenario.

Notice of Floodplain Involvement

    DOE hereby provides notice of a proposed DOE action in a floodplain 
pursuant to DOE Floodplain and Wetland Environmental Review 
Requirements (10 CFR Part 1022). Portions of the proposed project cross 
the Patuxent River, the Chesapeake Bay, the Choptank River, the 
Nanticoke River and other water bodies, and their associated 
floodplains along the entire length of the proposed transmission line. 
DOE will prepare a floodplain assessment as required by DOE

[[Page 12090]]

regulations and include it in the EIS. Interested parties may comment 
during the scoping period following the publication of this NOI and 
will also be able to comment on the floodplain assessment when the 
Draft EIS is published.

Preliminary Identification of Environmental Issues

    DOE has tentatively identified the following environmental resource 
areas for consideration in the EIS. This list is not intended to be 
all-inclusive nor to predetermine the potential environmental impacts 
or their significance:

Air quality
Greenhouse gas emissions and climate change
Energy use and production
Water resources, including groundwater and surface waters
Wetlands and floodplains
Geological resources
Ecological resources, including threatened and endangered species and 
species of special concern
Cultural resources, including historic structures and properties; sites 
of religious and cultural significance to Tribes; and archaeological 
resources
Land use
Coastal zone management
Visual resources and aesthetics
Transportation and traffic
Noise and vibration
Hazardous materials and solid waste management
Human health and safety
Accidents and terrorism
Socioeconomics, including impacts to community services
Environmental justice

    DOE invites comments on whether additional resource areas or 
potential issues should be considered in the EIS.

Public Scoping Process

    To ensure that all issues related to DOE's proposed action are 
addressed, DOE seeks public input to define the scope of the EIS. 
Interested government agencies, private-sector organizations, and the 
general public are encouraged to submit comments concerning the content 
of the EIS, issues and impacts that should be addressed, and 
alternatives that should be considered. Scoping comments should clearly 
describe specific issues or topics that the EIS should address to 
assist DOE in identifying significant issues for analysis.
    DOE has coordinated with Federal and state agencies in the project 
area and expects that the United States Army Corps of Engineers will be 
a cooperating agency for the preparation of this EIS. DOE invites any 
additional agencies with jurisdiction by law or special expertise to be 
cooperating agencies in the preparation of this EIS.
    The public scoping meetings will be announced as described in the 
DATES and ADDRESSES sections above. Members of the public and 
representatives of groups and Federal, state, local, and Tribal 
agencies are invited to attend. The meetings will include both a formal 
opportunity to present oral comments and an informal session during 
which DOE and PHI personnel will be available for discussions. Displays 
and other information about the proposed agency action, the EIS 
process, and PHI's proposed MAPP project will be available. Individuals 
who wish to make oral comments during one of the scoping meetings may 
register at the meeting. To ensure that everyone who wishes to has a 
turn to speak, DOE may need to limit speakers to three to five minutes 
initially, but will provide additional opportunities as time permits. 
Written comments may be submitted to DOE officials at the scoping 
meetings.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on February 28, 2011.
Owen Barwell,
Acting Executive Director, Loan Programs Office.
[FR Doc. 2011-4878 Filed 3-3-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6450-01-P