Rough path for PATH

December 11th, 2009

Difficulties are growing for “backbone” transmission for coal in the east.  Not long ago, Virginia staff had asked the Commission to deny the PATH proposal.  Now, after the hearing ended, after reviewing testimony, staff has again recommended the petition be denied.  This is the project where Maryland tossed it out because the applicant was not a public service corporations.  If one end of the project is taken out, it’s a project going nowhere.


West Virginia declined to dismiss the application, and instead has taken action, or taken inaction:

W.Va. delays power line decision until February 2011.

Now it’s time for Virginia’s reality orientation.

Va. staff again recommends denial of PATH project

Originally published December 11, 2009

By Ed Waters Jr.
News-Post Staff

A project to put a high-voltage transmission line across three states is facing another obstacle in its path.

On Wednesday, the Virginia State Corporation Commission’s staff again recommended the denial of the proposed PATH system in the Old Dominion.

After reviewing testimony on the issue, the SCC staff is advising the commission, which oversees utilities in the state, to turn down the proposal from Allegheny Energy.

The Potomac Appalachian Transmission Highline is a nearly 300-mile, $1.8 billion project beginning in West Virginia, crossing Virginia and ending in southern Frederick County at a proposed new substation. It is a joint project of Allegheny Energy and American Electric Power.

In November, the Virginia commission’s senior hearing examiner denied a similar motion by the staff members. Alexander F. Skirpan said continuing the project in Virginia gave the commission jurisdiction over the project.

The SCC staff has argued that without approval in Maryland of PATH, and a move by West Virginia authorities to postpone a decision on the project until 2011, the transmission line is going nowhere. Allegheny Energy said it will file a new application for PATH in Maryland within the next few weeks. The application in Maryland was initially turned down on legal issues.

“We only just received the Virginia commission staff’s testimony and will closely review the testimony over coming days. PATH Allegheny Virginia Transmission Corporation will respond to staff testimony with rebuttal testimony sometime near the end of December,” said Todd Meyers, manager of external communications for Allegheny Energy, on Thursday.

“The public regulatory review process in Virginia is extremely thorough and has a long way to go. The PATH evidentiary hearings before the Virginia State Corporation Commission are scheduled to begin in Richmond, Va., on Jan. 19, 2010, and are expected to last about two weeks,” Meyers said.

Doug Kaplan, president of the Sugarloaf Conservancy, said Thursday that while he commended the Virginia staff, “the battle is far from over.” Kaplan’s group represents many residents who live in or near the route of PATH and have voiced environmental, visual and safety concerns about the project. The group has disagreed with electric power needs in the near future as stated by Allegheny Power.

John P. Flannery, counsel for River’s Edge, a community in Lovettsville, Va., has been an outspoken opponent of PATH. Flannery criticized Skirpan for not initially denying the project in November and again called for the rejection of the project in Virginia. Flannery was among speakers when Skirpan was at hearing in Lovettsville that drew about 250 opponents to the project in the audience.

Kaplan said the utility companies should look beyond the potential revenue generated by PATH and withdraw the applications in both Virginia and West Virginia. “We do not believe it is in the best interest of their customers who will continue to pay for the cost of continuing these cases,” Kaplan said.

Another Frederick County-based group, Citizens Against the Kemptown Electric Substation, have been active in fighting the proposed substation to be located near Mount Airy . The proposed substation would be the largest ever built in the U.S. and one of the largest in the world.

3 Responses to “Rough path for PATH”

  1. TransparentlyYours Says:

    Thank you for your outstanding commentary. Please tune in to Docket #IC10-729 at FERC for a street-level view of our cautiously optimistic activities in opposition to PATH. Also note, Credit Suisse, a major financial backer of the project, downgraded AEP stock today. Just follow the money. . . (What genious said that?)

  2. TransparentlyYours Says:

    OOPS Sorry for the mis-spelling of “genius” 🙂

  3. TransparentlyYours Says:

    Article Links
    » PATH
    CHARLES TOWN – Allegheny Energy said Wednesday that it has no intention of pulling the plug on a multistate transmission line that is expected to make its way through portions of Jefferson County.

    Tuesday, the company submitted documents to a regulatory agency known as the Virginia State Corporation Commission indicating that a high-voltage power line, known as the Potomac Appalachian Transmission Highline, or PATH, may not be needed by 2014, as previously expected. In its filing, the company requested that the commission consider an earlier request to withdraw the application Allegheny had filed in the state seeking permission to build the line.

    Company officials say, however, that the move is not expected to have any bearing on proceedings in West Virginia and Maryland, where separate regulatory agencies are considering additional applications for the project that have been submitted there as well. “We still support the existing applications we have in the other states,” said Doug Colafella, a spokesman for Allegheny Energy.

    Preliminary analysis prompted withdraw of Va. application

    The company made its request to withdraw its application in Virginia because new, preliminary analysis conducted by a regional transmission organization known as PJM indicates that the line may not be needed as early as previously thought, Colafella said.

    “We don’t feel that we can proceed with the current application, knowing this data that we have,” Colafella said in a phone interview Wednesday.

    PJM recently was asked to conduct the analysis by officials in Virginia.

    “The data we’ve just received from PJM is preliminary. … The analysis doesn’t determine a specific in service date. What it does indicate is that reliability violations are not likely to occur in 2014,” he said.

    Colafella said the company does not plan to withdraw its applications in Maryland and West Virginia in light of this new information.

    In West Virginia, he said, the project’s hearing schedule has been adjusted, and the company will have time to present additional data as part of the current proceedings. Allegheny, he added, also will be able to use information in West Virginia that could arise from further analysis PJM plans to conduct as part of its 2010 Regional Transmission Expansion Planning Process.

    The review serves as a comprehensive plan for the agency, he explained, adding that it also could have implications for how the project continues in Virginia.

    “If that analysis indicates a continued need for the PATH project for a later date, then we’ll file another application for the project in Virginia,” Colafella said.

    Opposition questions application status

    Some who are opposed to the project, however, wonder how different that new application could be from the ones that have already been filed in other states. If there are major differences, they question whether new applications should be required in Maryland and West Virginia as well.

    Patience Wait, a Jefferson County resident who has helped lead the local fight against the project said she has other concerns about what the new developments could mean for the project’s review process in West Virginia as well. Under a revised proceeding schedule for hearings before the West Virginia Public Service Commission, Allegheny has been given permission to submit additional information regarding the power line by mid-June.

    “One of the reasons that we find it unfair is because, from the deadline that was set in West Virginia, we get only two weeks to analyze it and respond. … From the Virginia stuff, it sounds like it will be (a completely new application),” she said.

    Wait said it remains unclear whether those who are opposed to the project locally will file a motion seeking to have PATH dismissed in West Virginia. Any future decision on that issue, she said, is contingent upon what might happen in Virginia, where officials still are considering Allegheny’s recent request.

    “This is a three-sided house of cards, and what happens on any one of the sides kind of depends on what happens with the other two,” she said.

    Allegheny removes PATH info from Web site

    In a statement the company issued this week to announce the new development in Virginia, the company encouraged individuals seeking information about the power line’s maps and current state applications to visit its Web site, Wednesday, however, the site stated that it was “under construction.” It had been stripped of all information that was previously found there, including PATH maps.

    “We recognize the importance of PATH and want to make sure the public has all of the information available to make informed decisions,” the site stated. “Please bear with us while we update our information.”

    Colafella said the site is being altered to remove references that had previously indicated the line would be needed by 2014. He said there are no plans at this time to reconfigure the line to go around Virginia.

    – Staff writer Naomi Smoot can be reached at (304) 725-6581, or

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