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.

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.
Read the rest of this entry »


By standing up for offshore transmission for wind, Delaware’s Gov. Jack Markell stands up to Midwest coal!

The Mid-Atlantic states have been standing up and opposing transmission from the Midwest.  They’ve gone on record in a number of venues, and in their opposition are citing Midwest transmission promoters’ disregard for eastern renewable efforts, that xmsn may well not be an economical way to get power to the east, and that THEY KNOW THAT MIDWEST TRANSMISSION PLANS INHERENTLY ARE ABOUT COAL. The plan they’re referring to is a massive transmission buildout known as JCSP, and it also applies to the big PJM buildout that includes the PA-NJ Susquehanna-Roseland transmission line that was the subject of a hearing last month.

Here’s JCSP (Joint Coordinated System Plan) note their site now talks about wind — but look where the transmission starts, DUH! The coal fields of the Dakotas:


Gotta give them, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, a lot of credit for recognizing and stating what Midwest states have been unwilling to admit.


That said, here’s what Mid-Atlantic states are doing — they’re banding together to propose offshore transmission.  If it’s underwater offshore transmission, that’s an idea that’s hard not to like.  But I’ll bet it throws PJM for a loop, what with all their “backbone” transmission schemes, a la Project Mountaineer, that are in the works:


The FERC birth of Project Mountaineer:

Exhibit STL D-6a (PSEG Discovery Response)

Exhibit STL D-6B (PSEG Discovery Response)

And you can see that those lines in play now, PJM’s “backbone” transmission projects like Susquehanna-Roseland (NE part of Project Mountaineer Line 1) and MAPP (NE part of Project Mountaineer Line 4) are part of the plan… the big transmission plan that does not work for the east coast.

Here’s the Memorandum of Understanding between Delaware, Maryland and Virginia:

DE, MD & VA Wind Infrastructure MOU

And recently, Gov. Jack Markell addressed these issues before American Wind Energy Association’s offshore windfest — but given the PJM big-transmission-projects-from-hell are referred to as “backbone” projects, I wish they’d find another term:

Delaware energy: ‘Backbone’ power line pushed for wind farms

The News Journal

BOSTON — If the Eastern Seaboard is to one day be dotted with thousands of wind turbines, they may as well work in harmony.

That’s the message 10 eastern governors are sending to the federal government as they advocate for a major underwater power line parallel to the East Coast.

U.S. offshore wind farm projects, all still on the drawing board, are being planned to include cables from the turbines to a substation on land to bring the power to the existing transmission grid.

The “backbone” power line the governors envision would connect the wind farms to each other, making it easier to spread wind power from areas where the wind is blowing robustly at that moment to states where electricity demand exceeds supply.

They see the backbone as preferable to a national investment in a transmission line that brings wind power from the Midwest to the East.

Gov. Jack Markell broached the subject this week in his address to the American Wind Energy Association’s offshore wind workshop, the industry event of the year on this side of the Atlantic. Markell signed onto letters the governors sent to members of Congress this summer, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last month.

Governors of Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine also signed the letters.

In an interview, Markell’s natural resources secretary, Collin O’Mara, said he wants to find out if there’s a way to spread out the costs of such a project. Building a backbone would help states satisfy their renewable electricity purchase requirements, and relieve the “spaghetti” structure of the current power grid, he said.

“Let’s have the conversation,” O’Mara said. “It’s extremely worthy of further study.”

Transmission is vitally important to getting offshore wind energy to population centers, said Denise Bode, the wind association’s president. And Gov. Donald Carcieri, R-R.I., called it “the elephant in the room.”

The power grid is “organized like a patchwork to meet local needs” rather than as a planned national system — almost an assemblage of local roads compared with an interstate, Carcieri said. The developers and government officials in attendance were very much aware of the role transmission will play in whether the offshore wind industry lives up to its potential.

The discussion comes as various offshore wind projects are maturing from concept to permitting, construction and design. At the moment, NRG-Bluewater Wind holds the only contract for offshore wind power, with Delmarva Power.

It’s starting the permitting process, getting ready to build weather towers off Delaware and New Jersey next summer, and preparing to bid for the right to develop an offshore wind project in New York City.

Jim Gordon, president of the Cape Wind venture that hopes to build in Nantucket Sound, told the convention he has all of the permits he needs from the state and federal government, but is working to overcome a tribal challenge that the waters in Nantucket Sound are protected.

The developer is working with the local utility — National Grid — to develop a contract to purchase power from the wind farm.

National Grid is also negotiating with Deepwater Wind for a contract to provide power to Rhode Island’s Block Island from a small, five-to-eight turbine facility in near-to-shore state waters. The company is also planning a larger wind farm in federal waters off the Rhode Island coast, which will take longer to build.

Deepwater, Bluewater and Fishermen’s Energy are planning wind farms off the New Jersey coast and the state government has provided incentives.

Deepwater CEO Bill Moore said, in principle, the backbone transmission line is “a terrific idea. It makes a lot of sense.”

But he said it’s a “daunting task” to complete an infrastructure project that crosses state boundaries, impacts different developers, and brings together different regional power grids.

“It obviously won’t happen in the absence of federal leadership,” he said.

Fishermen’s Energy President Daniel Cohen said it’s a good idea, but “it’s another moving part.”

“What comes first? Do you build the project or the backbone? People need to make decisions soon,” Cohen said, noting that the answer affects financing arrangements.

Gordon van Welie, president of ISO New England, the regional power grid manager, said there has been some investment in transmission upgrades, but a national plan is needed before new elements are selected.

“The rhinoceros in the room is the transmission cost allocation” — who benefits from a transmission line, and who pays for it, he said.

He noted that the New England governors adopted their own long-term vision of renewable energy, which included $6 billion in lines to transmit power from inland and offshore turbines to population centers.

The benefits of building lines transmitting wind power from the Midwest are less certain, he said.

“It will be difficult to get progress in this area until there are clear national goals,” he said.

Steven Bruckner, conservation chairman of the Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club, looked kindly upon the backbone idea. He said he didn’t have environmental concerns, although he wondered whether such a project would be economical.

“You’re talking hundreds, thousands of wind turbines off the coast, eventually displacing those coal burning power plants,” he said. “It’s the scale. It’s the beginning.”

Note that “cost allocation” is raised.  Since the 7th Circuit decision tossing out FERC approval of PJM’s transmission cost allocation dream/nightmare, all transmission projects 500kV and over based on that cost allocation scheme are in limbo.

Illinois Commerce Commission v. FERC – August 6, 2009

So as noted, who pays, and submarine transmission is EXPENSIVE, is THE big issue now.  It’s the big issue for land transmission, it’s the big issue for offshore transmission, and, given the uncertainty since the 7th Circuit decision, maybe some of the sturm and drang could be circumvented if it’s designed at 345kV or below, and uses the “benefactor pays” theory.  We shall see…