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PATH Transmission Line Application Rejected in Maryland
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by Jim Kotcon, WV Chapter Energy Committee | 2009

Our neighbor state Maryland seems to know that something really stinks about a powerline that so many oppose!

The Maryland Public Service Com-mission has rejected an application for the PATH transmission line in that state because the applicant, PATH, LLC, is not a Maryland utility. PATH, LLC is a joint subsidiary of Allegheny Energy and American Electric Power, but is simply a transmission company and does not own and power plants or serve any customers in Maryland. The Maryland PSC also ruled that Allegheny Energy’s Maryland subsidiary, Potomac Edison, could not apply as Potomac Edison would not own or operate the line.

Allegheny Energy says they are continuing to seek approval in Virginia and West Virginia “as options concerning the Maryland segment of the line are considered.”

It is not clear if this means refiling the current application under a new corporate name, or siting a new substation in another state or in Maryland, and if so, what route would be followed to get to the new location.

As a result of Maryland’s action, staff from the Virginia State Corporations Commission have filed a motion asking that the PATH line be dismissed in Virginia because the project no longer has a clear ending terminus.

Here in West Virginia, a series of public hearings has been held by the WV Public Service Commission, with opponents significantly out-numbering supporters of the line. In addition, more than 250 interveners have filed in opposition to PATH, an unprecedented level of opposition. The proceedings are now so complex that the WV PSC has no clear idea of how to handle the process administratively.

The West Virginia Chapter of Sierra Club continues to prepare its case against the line, and is collaborating with the WV Highlands Conservancy. Expert witnesses will be filing testimony in November, with rebuttal testimony due in December. An Evidentiary Hearing is scheduled from February 8-23 in Charleston, and a final decision is due by June 22, 2010.

The PATH issue is significant because it represents a $1.8 billion investment in infrastructure, almost entirely intended to increase transmission of coal-fired electricity to the East Coast. Most of this would be generated from West Virginia and Ohio power plants, which means that the air pollution would be predominately impacting West Virginia citizens. Furthermore, this increased coal-fired generation would increase greenhouse gas emission, and expand impacts form mountaintop removal mining, at a time when we need to be reducing these environmentally destructive practices.

What You Can Do

Contact your state legislators. Ask them to support reform of PSC transmission line practices, and oppose transmission taxes. Most legislators have not heard much from constituents on these issues.

Write letters to the editor of your local paper to oppose PATH.

Contact the West Virginia Sierra Club’s Energy Committee (304-594-3322) for more information or to contribute to the Stop PATH campaign.

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