Delmarva Power holding public meetings on transmission-line project

About 20 people attended a meeting held by Delmarva Power representatives at the Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Company this week regarding Delmarva Power’s transmission-line project that will run from the Indian River in Millsboro to Bishopville, Md. They will host a similar meeting next week at the Bishopville Volunteer Fire Company.

In order to enhance reliability in southern Delaware and on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Delmarva Power plans to build a new high-voltage transmission line. The 138,000-volt line will be built on approximately 12 miles on existing right-of-way, with about 10.5 miles being in southeastern Sussex and almost 2 miles in Maryland.

Delmarva Power Public Affairs Manager Jim Smith explained that the first portion of the project will go from the Indian River substation to the Frankford substation and will replace the existing 70-foot wooden poles with 70- to 90-foot steel poles.

The new poles will have two circuits instead of one and will have six lines. They will be placed within the existing right-of-way that is already cleared and maintained and will go through Dagsboro, across the railroad tracks (near Southern States on Clayton Street). They will then go northwest of Frankford and cross Route 113 to the Frankford substation.

The second portion of the project will involve erecting new steel poles, 80 to 100 feet high, adjacent to existing 70-foot H-frame structures, from the Frankford substation to the Bishopville substation.

Smith explained that Delmarva Power had wanted to be proactive with affected residents and those in the surrounding area, not reactive. In March, they mailed around 1,000 letters to area property and business owners, letting them know of their plans for the project.

“In some cases, we could be doing work either adjacent to or on somebody’s property, so we wanted to be proactive in educating the people,” he said.

Construction is scheduled to begin in Delaware in November of this year and in Maryland in February 2012.

During the evening, Smith showed a simulation of how the power lines will be built and what they will look like once completed. He said they are doing engineering and environmental studies right now and “hope to be energized and up and running about a year from now.”

A Selbyville resident who said her son lives right near the power lines asked if he, a cancer survivor, would be at risk for cancer again, living so close to the lines.

Delmarva Power referred her question to Meghan Mitchell, an epidemiologist with scientific and engineering consulting firm Exponent Inc. According to Mitchell, exposure to electromagnetic fields, or EMFs, does not pose additional risk for disease or illness. She also said the EMF levels will actually go down with the project because of “cancellation.” For those still leery, she added, “The further you are away, the lower the levels.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) states on their Web site that “based on a recent in-depth review of the scientific literature, the WHO concluded that current evidence does not confirm the existence of any health consequences from exposure to low-level electromagnetic fields. However, some gaps in knowledge about biological effects exist and need further research.”

(For more information on the review, visit

Smith said noise from the lines should not be a problem and that television reception wouldn’t be affected.

For more information on the project, visit