Maryland's Power Plant Research Program (PPRP)

a photo of the Power PlantThe Power Plant Research Program (PPRP) functions to ensure that Maryland meets its electricity demands at reasonable costs while protecting the State's valuable natural resources. It provides a continuing program for evaluating electric generation issues and recommending responsible, long-term solutions.

PPRP was established under the Power Plant Siting and Research Act of 1971. This enlightened legislation provided a model for addressing power plant licensing issues which several other states have adopted.

The enabling legislation established an Environmental Trust Fund to support the Power Plant Research Program. Funding is provided through an environmental surcharge that is assessed on all electricity used in the State. The surcharge adds between 10 and 20 per month to the average residential customer's electric bill.

Specific Program Mandates
PPRP is responsible for managing a Consolidated Review of all issues related to power generation in Maryland. This role - unique in State government - provides a framework for the comprehensive review of all electric power issues with the goal of balancing need, cost, and impacts.

 a map showing Power Plants and 500kV Transmission Lines in and around Maryland.

New Facilities
Electric power generators must obtain a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) from the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) to build or modify power plants and transmission lines in the State. As part of the review, PPRP:

 Existing Facilities

a photo of a Power PlantPPRP evaluates issues related to operation of the State's power plants and transmission lines greater than 69 kilovolts (kV). Because there are several different types of plants operating in and around Maryland, PPRP must address a broad range of impacts or topics.

Some of these include:

Fossil-Fueled Plants (coal, oil, or gas)
  • Technical feasibility and cost effectiveness of various pollution control alternatives
  • Air emissions of acid rain precursors and particulate matter, including heavy metals
  • Aquatic impacts of cooling water withdrawals and discharges
  • Beneficial use of combustion by-products
  • Unique approaches to minimize resource consumption
Nuclear Plants
  • Environmental assessment of radioactivity released
  • Operations, licensing, and relicensing issues
  • Radioactive waste disposal
  • Emergency response
Hydroelectric Plants
  • Effects of stream flow modification
  • Fish passage
  • Operational approaches
Transmission Lines
  • Health and safety
  • Right-of-way maintenance practices
  • Socioeconomic impacts
  • Grid access and deregulation issues

Future Planning
Review of long-range plans for power supply is essential to providing adequate electricity to Maryland customers at reasonable cost and schedules. PPRP's involvement in this area includes the following activities:

  • Development of independent projections of the State's power needs.
  • Assessment of alternative power supply options.
  • Evaluation of Integrated Resource Plans.
  • Assessment of issues related to deregulation in the electric power industry.
a photo of scientists collecting data

 Ongoing Evaluations
PPRP's ongoing assessments involve both plant-specific studies and more general monitoring, research and modeling projects. These projects cover a spectrum of issues, such as environmental impact assessments, technology evaluations and demonstrations, and economic studies. Some representative topics include:

For further information....

PPRP annually publishes a Bibliography listing more than 700 general and site-specific power plant related reports that PPRP has prepared since 1971.

PPRP also publishes biennially the Power Plant Cumulative Environmental Impact Report (CEIR). This document serves as a comprehensive review of environmental, socioeconomic, and policy issues related to power plants in Maryland.

The Bibliography, CEIR and other reports produced by PPRP may be obtained from:
Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Power Plant Research Program
Tawes State Office Building
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
(410) 260-8660

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