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WV Chapter Interstate Powerline Campaign

Background Information on WV Chapter Campaign 

            On March 30, 2007, the Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line Company (AKA TrAILCo, AKA Allegheny Energy) filed an application with the WV Public Service Commission (PSC) for approval to construct a 500 kV transmission line through 114 miles of West Virginia, crossing Monongalia, Preston, Tucker, Grant, Hardy and Hampshire Counties.  The new line originates in Pennsylvania, and would terminate in Virginia.  The line is intended to provide additional transmission capacity to allow Allegheny Energy to transmit power from its plants in WV, PA and OH, to East Coast customers.

            Opposition has been expressed by the Hampshire, Hardy, Preston and Monongalia County Commissions, several watershed organizations, and various individuals and homeowners.  Intense opposition is also developing in Pennsylvania and Virginia. 

           
In a related action, the US Dept. of Energy proposes to designate a “National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor” that includes most of northern West Virginia (from Parkersburg to Pocahontas County and all counties north).  This allows the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to authorize a transmission corridor if the state agency does not approve one within one year of the application.  However, the US DOE designation does NOT direct anyone to build a line, instead it encourages consideration of a full range of alternatives, including local generation or energy conservation measures, to meet electricity demands.


Adverse direct impacts from the proposed transmission line include, but are not limited to:

  •       permanent compromise of an extended swath of virgin land across the state
  • ¨    loss of use of private property along the path of the line,
  • ¨    noise and disturbance during construction,
  • ¨    aesthetic impacts and loss of scenic values forever,
  • ¨    water quality impacts from herbicides used to maintain the line right-of-way,
  • ¨    electrical interference with appliances near the line,
  • ¨    loss of wildlife habitat and threat to biodiversity.

Indirect adverse effects of the line will stem from increased sales of power, including:

  • ¨      increased coal mining, mine subsidence, acid mine drainage, or mountaintop removal,
  • ¨      increased air pollution, including acid rain, ozone, mercury and particulate pollution, especially as power from old dirty coal plants displaces cleaner natural gas plants,
  • ¨      increased emissions of greenhouse gases for the life of the line (30-50 years+),
  • ¨      increased electricity costs to local customers who will pay a portion of the construction and operation costs.

 “Not blind opposition to progress, but opposition to blind progress.”

Alternatives

1.  Invest in energy conservation and “demand-side management” to reduce the need for new capacity.  This would be the cheapest for consumers, avoid adverse environmental impacts, and would occur more quickly than any construction option.  The only adverse effect is that Allegheny Energy does not currently make any money by investing in conservation.

2.  Improve existing transmission networks.  This would avoid many costs, certainly more than the temporary cost associated with any shut down of the existing corridor during construction.

3.  Build additional transmission lines on existing rights-of-way.  This would avoid the any incremental impact on new land owners, even if indirect environmental impacts would remain. 

4. Re-locate the proposed line to other locations where necessary to preserve unique pristine areas, and avoid imposing those impacts elsewhere.


For more information, visit these web sites:


West Virginia Sierra Club: http://westvirginia.sierraclub.org/  Contacts for local activists, newsletters, etc.

West Virginia Public Service Commission:  www.psc.state.wv.us  Search for case number 07-0508-E-CN

TrAILCo  http://www.aptrailinfo.com/index.php

Allegheny Power subsidiary. Includes maps of route, as well as links to the WV, PA and VA applications.

Laurel Run Watershed Association, http://www.laurelrunwatershed.org/ Monongalia County info.

Halleck and Southern Monongalia County Community Association: http://www.notowersinwv.org/

Capon Valley Coalition http://caponvalleycoalition.com/  News items from Hardy & Hampshire County

Piedmont Environmental Council www.pecva.org (Virginia)

Energy Conservation Council of Pennsylvania  www.stopthetowers.org (Pennsylvania)


Send Comments to:


WV Public Service Commission
Sandra Squire, Secretary
201 Brooks Street
Charleston, WV 25323

Refer to Case No. 07-0508-E-CN. 

Write “Letter of Protest” at the top.


Top Seven Reasons to Deny the Certificate of Need for the TrAILCo Allegheny Power Line

1.  Significant Environmental Impacts Exist!

Allegheny’s application states that no significant environmental impacts are expected.  This statement is ludicrous!  No competent environmental assessor would make such a claim.  The PSC should reject the application and require that an accurate and truthful review of the environmental impacts be submitted.

2.  The Transmission line offers no benefit to West Virginia customers!

The transmission line is intended to deliver power to East Coast urban centers.  No West Virginia citizens will benefit.

3.  The Transmission line could be costly to West Virginia ratepayers.

Allegheny’s application claims that “West Virginia retail electric customers will not be responsible, directly or indirectly, for the costs associated with the financing, construction, ownership, or operation of the West Virginia Segments.”  But this is based on the unproven assumption that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approves the cost allocations to areas outside West Virginia.  This is contradicted by Allegheny’s claim elsewhere that West Virginia customers would benefit from the increased reliability of the network, and from testimony submitted by Allegheny on the electrical need for the West Virginia segments.  Allegheny is trying to have it both ways, in the hopes that no one will notice until it is too late.

4.  Better alternatives exist to relieve transmission congestion.

Allegheny wants us to believe that new transmission capacity is the best way to relieve projected transmission congestion.  However, no analysis of energy conservation efforts has been included.  Numerous independent experts have concluded that energy conservation could reduce demand more quickly, more cheaply, and more safely than construction of new capacity.

5.  The transmission line is a bad investment, and would increase emission of greenhouse gases indefinitely.

Virtually all of Allegheny’s electricity generation is from coal-fired power plants.  The primary purpose of this line is to enhance transmission of this electricity to East Coast markets.  This electricity would displace generation of cleaner, but more expensive plants in those areas.  When coupled with the inefficiencies of electricity transmission, this would significantly increase the emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicates that the world must reduce the rate of emissions, possibly as soon as 2015, and certainly within the next 20 years, but the transmission line would have an effective life of 30-50 years.  While slowing global warming is not going to be cheap or easy, making bad investments in fossil-fuel capacity now is a major step in the wrong direction, and is the most expensive approach to reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases.

6.  The transmission line would take private property solely for the benefit of another private company.

Many landowners along the route, those directly crossed by the line and those nearby, would suffer a loss of property value.  In many cases, the compensation offered would not fully offset the perceived loss of value to the local property owners.

7.  The transmission line would support increased emissions of air pollution, resulting in adverse health effects on West Virginia residents.

Allegheny’s power plants are among the largest emitters of sulfur dioxides, nitrogen oxides, particulates, and mercury in West Virginia.  Our air already exceeds EPA health standards in many areas.  Increased generation resulting from this line would make the air worse.

Sample Letters:  Please write to our political leaders and ask them to oppose the transmission line.

TO:
Honorable Joe Manchin, Senators (Use their names), Delegates (Use their names):

As you know, Allegheny Energy is proposing to construct a new 500 kV transmission power line through northern West Virginia. They also have proposed, in conjunction with American Electric Power, to build a 765 kv line from Kanawha County through northern and eastern West Virginia.  I oppose construction of these transmission lines because:

* They will dramatically increase the amount of air pollution and greenhouse gases emitted by West Virginia power plants.

* They will result in increased destruction from coal mining, including mountaintop removal, mine subsidence damage, acid mine run off, and other environmental damage.

* They will deter investment in clean renewable energy sources and in energy conservation

* They will cost billions of dollars, much of which will likely be paid for by West Virginia residents. There does not appear to be a need for these lines - for security, reliability, power demand, or any other reason.  Higher energy costs will deter business and industry from staying in, or moving to, West Virginia.


Allegheny should invest in green energy and efficiency, not in wasteful transmission lines.  West Virginia can not continue to be a sacrifice zone for Allegheny’s greed.  Conserve energy, our mountains, and our community and Keep West Virginia Wild and Wonderful.  I urge you to oppose these lines, and the NIET application.

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,

(Your Name, address and other contact info)

"West Virginia is Ours, No More Allegheny Towers!"

   
   

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