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Maryland Power Plants and the Environment (CEIR-18)

Appendix A – Permits and Approvals for Power Plants and Transmission Lines in Maryland

Under Maryland regulations, a person, developer, or electric company that is planning to construct or modify a generating facility or a transmission line greater than 69 kilovolts (kV) in Maryland must receive a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) from the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) prior to the start of construction. The approved CPCN constitutes permission to construct the facility and incorporates several, but not all, required construction and operation permits. The CPCN process was designed in 1971 to be a “one-stop shop” for power plant licensing and the broad authority of the PSC allows for the comprehensive review of all pertinent issues.

In the case of new or modified power plants, most of the air quality permits and approvals that are required for construction are incorporated into the CPCN, for example:

As with all major source air permits issued by the State, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region III is provided the opportunity to review and comment on the draft recommended license conditions during the CPCN process. Agencies that are authorized to issue Part 70 Title V operating permits are also authorized to issue Clean Air Act Title IV Acid Rain and Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) permits. In Maryland, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) is the entity authorized to issue Part 70 Title V, Acid Rain, and CSAPR permits.

The CPCN also encompasses the water appropriation permitting process for a new power plant. Obtaining a CPCN grants a facility developer the right to withdraw ground water and surface water for use at the facility, subject to relevant permit conditions that are incorporated into the CPCN (such as flow monitoring and reporting).

The table below lists the permits and approvals that may be required for a new power plant or transmission line or modifications to existing facilities in Maryland. The shaded rows indicate those permits that are included within the CPCN. While there are several permits that are issued separately, PPRP evaluates the entire suite of environmental and socioeconomic impacts during the consolidated licensing review process (described in Chapter 1 of this report).

List of Permits and Approvals Typically Required for Construction and Operation of Power Plants in Maryland

Subject Description Regulatory Entity Issuing Permit in Maryland Comments
Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) Incorporates several State and federal permits and approvals — those incorporated into CPCN are highlighted Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC)  
Air Quality Permit to Construct1 Applies to any minor new, modified, or reconstructed sources of air pollution PSC/Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) Constitutes a “minor New Source Review (NSR) construction permit”
Nonattainment Area
New Source Review (NA-NSR)1
Required for new or modified major sources that emit VOCs or nitrogen oxides (NOx); requirements and limitations are location-specific PSC/MDE Constitutes a “major NA-NSR” permit; requires Lowest Achievable Emission Rate (LAER), offsets, and alternatives analyses
Prevention of
Deterioration (PSD) 1
Required for major new or modified sources in attainment areas PSC/MDE Constitutes a “major PSD” permit; requires air quality monitoring, Best Achievable Control Technology (BACT), ambient impact analyses (modeling), impact on surrounding Class I areas
Title V Operating
Permit (federal) and Maryland Permit
to Operate
Facility-wide permit to operate MDE  
Title IV - Acid Rain
Covers “affected” power plant generating units for minor sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions MDE Requires continuous emission monitoring, recording, and reporting; acquisition of SO2 allowances
Clean Air Act (CAA) Section 112(r) Risk management plan for storage of ammonia and other toxic substances, as listed EPA May apply to facilities that use ammonia in SCR systems to control NOx
Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) The rule uses a cap and trade system to reduce SO2 by 73 percent NOx by 54 percent from 2005 levels. MDE Applies to 28 eastern states and the District of Columbia
Waterway Construction State-federal review and permitting for waterway impacts MDE/ U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Waterway impact determination necessary
Maryland Coastal Zone Management Program Balances development and protection in the coastal zone, which includes the Chesapeake Bay, coastal bays, and Atlantic Ocean, as well as the towns, cities and counties that contain/help govern the coastline. MDE/ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) State and federally coordinated program
Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Coastal Bays
Critical Areas
Protects Maryland’s Critical Areas,  which include all land within 1,000 feet of Maryland’s tidal waters and tidal wetlands as well as the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, the Atlantic Coastal Bays, their tidal tributaries, and the lands underneath and the air space above these tidal areas.  DNR/County/ Municipality Generally, enforced at the local or county level, but if a State Action is involved, such as granting a CPCN, the project must be reviewed by the full Critical Area Commission.
Scenic and Wild Rivers Designates and protects the water quality and cultural and "natural values" of Maryland’s wild and scenic rivers, including the impacts to the River mainstem and all tributaries thereof.  DNR Maryland’s Scenic and Wild River Act can be found in the Maryland Code, Section 8-401 et seq. of the Natural Resources Article
Erosion/Sediment Control Plan Approval Plan to prevent erosion and stormwater pollution during construction County Required before construction disturbing 5,000+ square feet of area
Storm Water Management Plan Plan to prevent storm water pollution associated with industrial activities. County Required prior to discharging storm water associated with industrial activity
Surface Water Discharge/
National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit
Combined state and federal permit for industrial wastewater and possibly storm water discharge to state water; must meet applicable federal effluent guidelines, satisfy state water quality standards, and comply with CAA Section 316(b) regulations regarding surface withdrawals. MDE Individual NPDES permits may include discharge of storm water associated with industrial activities, if not, facility must apply for a general permit for these activities. The permit application is due 180 days before discharge commences.
General Storm Water Permit (Industrial Activity) For discharges associated with industrial activity MDE/County Conservation District MDE determines whether a facility can operate under a general storm water permit.
Wellhead Protection Program Groundwater protection MDE/County/ Municipality Applies to public water supply wells and wells in groundwater management areas
Water and Sewerage Conveyance and Construction Permit Required before installing, extending or modifying community water supply and/or sewerage systems including treatment plants, pumping stations and major water mains and sanitary sewers POTW or County/ Municipality Required to ensure that infrastructure projects throughout the State are designed on sound engineering principles and comply with State design guidelines to protect water quality and public health.
Dam and Reservoir Safety Permit If applicable, for any lake or pond used for non-process water MDE/USACE 640 acre drainage area, 20 foot or greater embankment, high hazard class, natural trout water
Maryland Water Quality Certification Section 401 of the Clean Water Act provides states with the power to either deny or impose restrictions on construction that might affect water quality. Generally, this has been applied to construction or operation of hydroelectric projects under jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission MDE Wetland impact determination necessary
Surface Water Withdrawal Permit/Water Appropriation & Use Permit1 Water appropriation and use is tracked by a Water Resources Administration Permit PSC/MDE The appropriation of either surface or groundwater is incorporated into the CPCN. Trigger: withdrawal exceeding 10,000 gallons per day.
Public Water Supply Line Connection A variety of Clean Water Act permits, State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) clearance, National Resource Conservation Program (NRCS) consultation, floodplain permitting, and road boring permits County/ Municipality  
Tidal Wetland Permit State-federal review and permitting for tidal wetland impacts The Board of Public Works (BPW)/ PSC/MDE Water Management Administration (WMA)/USACE Wetland impact determination necessary.  BPW has the ultimate authority for issuing tidal wetlands permits and licenses.
Non-Tidal Wetlands Permit State-federal review and permitting for non-tidal wetland impacts MDE WMA/ USACE Wetland impact determination necessary
Groundwater Withdrawal1 Requires submittal of an application to the WMA for any withdrawal of groundwater for use in a project (sanitary water, process water, cooling, etc.) PSC/MDE WMA An impact assessment must be conducted
Consumptive Use Review and Approval Process Required for new consumptive water uses in the Susquehanna River basin Susquehanna River Basin Commission Requires approval by Commission for any new consumptive water uses or if  consumptive use exceeds an average of 20,000 gallons per day for any consecutive 30-day period
Facility Response Plan Prevents on-shore oil facilities from polluting navigable waters EPA All owners/operators of non-transportation related onshore facilities with greater than 1,000 gallons of oil on-site and the potential to discharge oil into navigable waters must prepare and submit plan
Sanitary Sewer Permit / Industrial User’s Permit For plant sanitary or process waste disposal to municipal facilities, a Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) Permit must be obtained from the Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW) Municipal Authorities  
Health Department Permit If septic tanks are used for sanitary waste, a Health Department Permit must be obtained County  
Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) / Storage tank regulations Plan to prevent and manage accidental spills of petroleum products stored on site MDE Typical threshold quantities of petroleum products: 1,320 total above ground gallons (for tanks 55 gallons or greater), and 4,200 gallons underground
Oil Operations Permit State permit required for the operation of oil storage tanks MDE Required for storage of 10,000 gallons of oil in above-ground tanks, transportation of oil, or operation of oil transfer facilities and facilities that have a total above ground capacity of 1,000 gallons of used oil
Local building permits during construction Requirements under local ordinances to be filed as necessary with County County / Municipality Includes building permit and site plan approvals as applicable
Forest Conservation Act Requirements to prepare Forest Stand Delineations and Forest Conservation Plans, and mitigation for impacts related to energy development. DNR Forest Service (delegated to Counties) Mitigation may be required for disturbance, whether or not trees are removed.
Phase II Cultural Resources Investigation Research potential significant impacts to cultural resources on site MHT Coordinate with Maryland State Historic Preservation Officer if necessary
National Historic Preservation Act / Maryland Historical Trust Act Protection of cultural/historic artifacts found during development MHT Coordinate with Maryland State Historic Preservation Officer if necessary
Threatened and Endangered Species Clearance State-implemented program under the Endangered Species Act; includes field investigations and data research DNR Wildlife and Heritage Service (WHS) WHS Natural Heritage and Biodiversity Conservation Programs; coordinate with US Fish & Wildlife Service and NOAA
Oversize Equipment Delivery Permit For delivery of oversize and/or super loads of construction equipment from rail to site Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) Threshold (only 1 needs to be exceeded to trigger permit) 16 ft. wide, 16 ft. high, 150 ft. overall length, 132,000 lb. weight
New Roadway Access Permit To cover new road to plant MDOT Letter of request, location sketch, overall site plan, scaled drawings, grading and drainage plan, entrance plan and method of restoring disturbed land
Solid Waste Disposal Permit for Construction and Demolition Debris For removal and disposal of solid waste during construction MDE/County/ Municipality If waste is taken off site, it must be taken to a properly permitted facility
Utility Occupancy of
State Highway Administration (SHA)-owned Land
For projects that are proposed for location on property owned by SHA. SHA Longitudinal occupancy of an SHA ROW by electrical transmission lines greater than 98kV prohibited.
Approval for Solid Waste Disposal If waste, such as fly ash, is taken off-site, it must be taken to a properly permitted facility MDE  
Notification of Regulated Waste Activity For waste oil, universal waste, hazardous waste, disposal registration MDE If facility wishes to haul its own regulated waste, an additional permit may be necessary
Notice of Proposed Construction or Alteration For projects located near an airport or landing strip FAA, MDOT  Any construction or alteration of more than 200 feet or a height greater than a defined imaginary surface extending outward and upward from an airport or heliport.
Patuxent River Naval Air Station Wind Turbine Restrictions The Department of Defense (DOD) must be notified if a wind turbine will be within 56 miles of the Patuxent River Naval Air Station. PSC/DOD This regulation arose from concerns over wind turbine interference with radar signals
National Fire and Electrical Codes For the construction and operation of electrical generation and transmission facilities. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Minimum standards defined in NFPA 1 (Fire Code) and NFPA 70 (National Electrical Code)
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Completion of an Environmental Assessment (EA) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Federal entity, such as USACE or NPS Triggered when project crosses federal lands, or when FERC backup authority is invoked for siting an interstate transmission line.

1 Incorporated in CPCN.