That’s the PATH path…

They’re withdrawing their application, saying they want them timed together — if so, why withdraw, and not just ask for suspension? “It keeps the blood flowing” they say, but I’d say it keeps the blood boiling. Why not just admit it — it’s not needed, and there’s no way they can prove, and now they tacitly admit they can’t even CLAIM it’s needed.

PATH’s site

A decent article from the Leesburg Journal:

PATH Seeks To Withdraw, Suspend Richmond Hearings

By Margaret Morton
(Created: Tuesday, December 22, 2009 7:48 PM EST)

Representatives of PATH-VA filed several motions Monday with the Virginia State Corporation Commission aimed at scuttling-for now-its application to construct the Virginia portion of an almost 280-mile 765kV transmission line that is designed to bring power from West Virginia to Maryland. The venture is a joint partnership between Allegheny Energy and American Electric Power.

First, PATH filed a motion to withdraw its application to build the line in Virginia. Simultaneously, the company sought to suspend the evidentiary hearing that is slated to begin Jan. 19 in Richmond, pending a decision on the motion to withdraw the application.

PATH attorneys indicated the company intends to re-file an application to the SCC next year, based on the most up to date electrical load information available. Those forecasts are scheduled to be released in May.

At the same time, through Allegheny affiliate Potomac Edison Company, the company filed a new application with the Maryland Public Service Commission to build the line and the Kemptown substation in that state. The commission in September had denied the application on grounds PATH did not qualify as an electrical company under Maryland law.

In a statement issued Monday, PATH representative Mark Nitowski said the filings were intended to “align the procedural schedules in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia to enable “regulators to consider the need for the project based on the same facts.”

Under the current schedule, the Virginia hearings would conclude before similar hearings are held in either Maryland or West Virginia, PATH attorneys said, claiming it would be better for regulators to consider the arguments at the same time.

The date of the Richmond hearings was set in July, and opponents of the line, who next month plan to challenge the company claims that the project is essential to address growing demand for power, expressed frustration over what they saw were simply delaying tactics by PATH to gain time in order to build a more convincing case for need of the 765kV line.

The filings were in line with what PATH attorney Richard Gary, of the Hunton & Williams law firm in Richmond, indicated the company would do during a public hearing last month in Lovettsville.

Attorney John Flannery, who represents the residents of the Rivers Edge subdivision near Lovettsville, had predicted that PATH would invoke procedural gambits to buy the time the company needed to prove need. Although PATH requested more time, both in November and again on Monday, to make its case, it has not explained why its original applications to all three states could not meet the required standard.

SCC Hearing Examiner Alexander Skirpan, who presided over a public hearing in Lovettsville last month, has not ruled on the PATH motion to withdraw. But, he did deny the company’s motion to suspend the January hearings.

The claim that the PATH line is needed to address power capacity shortfalls is at the crux of the struggle and the legal maneuvers come at a time when national electrical statistics show power usage is flat or declining, in part because of increased conservation methods by users and in part because of the economy.

Dominion Virginia Power recently announced it would scale back a line upgrade in southern Loudoun based on new demand forecasts. The company had planned to upgrade from 115kV to 230kV its line between Arcola and Middleburg. Now that upgrade will only extend to a new substation at New Road east of Rt. 15.

The line serves both NOVEC and Dominion customers, but, citing a growth of only 13 percent in its service area, but a 71 percent growth in the NOVEC area, Dominion said it would concentrate its efforts on the four-mile section from Arcola to New Road. The company cited different types of customers and energy conservation measures as factors in its decision.

And need is what Lovettsville-area residents say PATH can’t prove. SCC expert witnesses in the energy field also testified that the company had not met the proof of need test, with one arguing the company had relied on outdated modeling and flawed assumptions.

Alfred Ghiorzi, who has been a prominent figure in the fight against the line, said Tuesday, “I think they’re trying to game the situation again. They can’t prove need, that seems obvious.”

While PATH attorneys said they did not wish to delay the applications unnecessarily, Flannery noted Skirpan has already allowed PATH two extensions of time for rebuttal-from Dec. 22, to Dec. 31 and now to Jan. 4. Flannery said his concern is that a scheduled oral argument set for Dec. 30 would be a “set up” that would provide PATH the opportunity to compress the schedule to favor the company, extending its deadline to file proof of need while reducing the time citizen-intervenors have to examine the PATH testimony.

“PATH’s intention is not to exhaust its remedies, it is to exhaust us and our resources,” Flannery said to property owners.

Ghiorzi took a more philosophical view. “We’ll have to start all over again. It keeps the blood flowing,” he said of the project’s twists and turns.