Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Acquisition of Pepco Holdings as an opportunity to raise biking access (and other) issues

Pepco Holdings is an electricity distribution firm (with roots in DC's streetcar business) and owns Pepco, which distributes electricity in Maryland and DC, and other companies active in Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey.

Exelon is an electricity distribution firm with its roots in Chicago's Cons, and they purchased Baltimore Gas and Electric in 2011.

Today it was announced ("BGE parent company to acquire Pepco Holdings in $6.8 billion deal, " Baltimore Sun) that Exelon has a deal to purchase Pepco.

Utility company mergers have to be approved by the various Public Service Commissions in the states that will be impacted by the transaction.

The hearings are good opportunities to raise issues of concern to residents, although as I have written "You can't wish away the need to upgrade aging utility infrastructure" and the fact that rates will rise to deal with the issue.

Most residents are concerned about rates, reliability ("Pepco, PSC criticized at forum: Regulatory system skewed in utility’s favor, lawyer claims," Gazette) which has been a big issue with Pepco, even leading to the proposal by Montgomery County Councilman Roger Berliner that the county should take over electricity distribution because of Pepco's poor track record for reliability ("Creating publicly owned utility requires state authority," Gazette; "Press piling on Montgomery County utility dreams").

I in turn suggest we can raise the issue of trail access in transmission corridors.  It happens that Baltimore Gas and Electric, which serves the Baltimore and Annapolis areas but also reaches into Montgomery County, is comparatively good about providing access for trails (many transmission corridors are converted from abandoned railroad rights of way), while Pepco is not.

This Pepco transmission corridor in Prince George's County crosses University Boulevard.

As part of the hearing process, getting an agreement from Exelon to shift Pepco's practice on this item would be worthwhile.

John Wetmore, the producer of the cable access show "Perils for Pedestrians," has a nice webpage feature on walking and biking trails located within electricity transmission corridors.

He has also produced a short video contrasting Pepco with Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Company as the latter has a pipeline running through Olney, Maryland in Montgomery County, and they have allowed a trail to be constructed along the entire length.  It quotes Pepco as saying:

"We do not permit or license pedestrian and/or bicycle paths that run along our right of way."



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5 Comments:

At 3:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the W&OD rail ROW is now an electirc transmission corridor. It should be a rail corridor. rail is a better use of the right of way . Even a mixed use corridor is better than no rail.

 
At 5:25 PM, Anonymous charlie said...

I'd agree that that this is a good issue, although I'd question how many trails PEPCO might have.

And issues regarding reliability and undergrounding are probably more vital. However this is much lower cost.


 
At 6:20 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

No argument with you about priorities. But if Pepco properties can instead adopt BGE/Exelon best practices wrt trails, it's one step forward anyway.

And the hearings provide the only point of major leverage on the issue.

 
At 7:55 PM, Anonymous charlie said...

OK, 5 minutes on google gave me this:

http://energy.maryland.gov/energy101/

http://energy.maryland.gov/energy101/images/MDTransmissionLines.jpg

 
At 6:14 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Obviously, in the past it's been an issue with Pepco in DC, with the MBT, and apparently it is an issue in Montgomery County as well.

 

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