Local Boy Scout Webelo Samuel Smith of Charles Town has taken several awards at February 27th's Pinewood Derby with his StopPATH car.

Ten year-old Sam, the son of StopPATH members Steve and Shirley Smith, designed and built the winning car himself as a way to raise awareness about the PATH project.

Sam's StopPATH car took first place as fastest car in his Webelos den and 5th overall for his pack.  Sam was also awarded a certificate for having the most unique car.

Sam worries about where his family is going to live if PATH is constructed just across the street from the home they have lived in for nearly 20 years.  He has been a great asset to StopPATH over the past year, helping with our fair booth, our christmas parade float and many other projects.

Congratulations to Sam not only for his Pinewood Derby win but also for being so involved in his community at such a young age!   What a great kid!

Yesterday, HB 4403 passed out of the House Energy, Industry and Labor Committee by a very strong margin.   This victory is due to the many calls and emails of support the committee members received from all of you!  We thank you for taking the time to support this bill which requires notification of property owners.

But, we're not done yet!  HB 4403 has been sent to the House Judiciary Committee where it must be put on the agenda for a vote and sent to the full House for a vote by next Wednesday, March 3.

Please call or email Delegate Miley, the committee chair, and ask him to put it on the agenda ASAP.  His contact info.:  Capitol Phone: (304) 340-3252 or email tim.miley@wvhouse.gov

You may also contact the members of the House Judiciary Committee so that they will vote in favor of it when it is put on the agenda.  Here's a link to contact info. for all committee members: http://www.legis.state.wv.us/committees/house/HouseCommittee.cfm?Chart=judweeblylink_new_window

We also need to help shepherd Senate Bill 614 through the Senate Judiciary Committee.  We had hoped to see it on the agenda yesterday while some of us were in Charleston, but it did not make it.  Call or email Senate Judiciary Chairman Jeff Kessler Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7880  E-mail: jeff.kessler@wvsenate.gov and ask him to put it on the committee's agenda.  You may also email the committee members and urge them to support it.  Here's a link to the list: http://www.legis.state.wv.us/committees/senate/SenateCommittee.cfm?Chart=judweeblylink_new_window

We're so close to success, please don't drop the ball now!  Thanks for all your support!  Together we are making a difference to reform the PSC so that landowners affected by future transmission line projects will receive timely notification.
Our two state senators, John Unger and Herb Snyder, have introduced Senate Bill 614, to change how the Public Service Commission handles applications for high-voltage transmission lines. There are two provisions:

(1) "Within five business days of filing an application, the applicant shall serve notice by certified mail on all owners of surface real estate that lies within one thousand feet of the center line on both sides of the proposed transmission line as currently shown on the records of the respective county clerk, as well as operators of all currently producing oil or gas wells that lie within one thousand feet of the center line on both sides of the proposed transmission line."

(2) "Will economically, adequately and reliably contribute to meeting the present and anticipated requirements for electric power of the customers served by the applicant or is necessary and desirable for present and anticipated reliability of service for electric power for its service area or region: Provided, That the commission includes written findings articulating how its decision is made in the best interest of West Virginia customers to meet the present and future needs and reliability of service for West Virginia customers."  [Everything from "Provided..." on is added by SB614]

You can see this addresses two of the biggest challenges we've faced in fighting PATH - the lack of notification to landowners near the proposed route, and that PATH provides no benefit to our state.

This legislation will NOT change anything in our battle against PATH - the application is already in process, so it will be handled based on existing regulations - BUT it will provide protection for West Virginia citizens facing future projects. And we all know there will be more lines proposed in the future!

Now we need your help!

SB 614 has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, but it has not been placed on the committee's agenda for consideration yet. It has to be passed in the Senate no later than March 3 - so we need you to contact by phone and/or email all the members of the Judiciary Committee! They are:

Sen. Jeff Kessler, Chairman (Marshall Co.) - 304-357-7880, 
Sen. Michael Oliverio, Vice Chairman (Monongalia) - 304-357-7919, 
Sen. Richard Browning (Wyoming) - 304-357-7807, 
Sen. Truman Chafin (Mingo) - 304-357-7808, 
Sen. Dan Foster (Kanawha) - 304-357-7866, 
Sen. Evan Jenkins (Cabell) - 304-357-7956, 
Sen. William Laird (Fayette) - 304-357-7849, 
Sen. Joseph Minard (Harrison) - 304-357-7904, 
Sen. Corey Palumbo (Kanawha) - 304-357-7854, 
Sen. Herb Snyder (Jefferson) - 304-357-7957, 
herb.snyder@wvsenate.gov (be sure to thank him!!)
Sen. Ron Stollings (Boone) - 304-357-7939, 
Sen. Bob Williams (Taylor) - 304-357-7995, 
Sen. Jack Yost (Brooke) - 304-357-7984, 
Sen. Clark Barnes (Randolph) - 304-357-7973, 
Sen. Frank Deem (Wood) - 304-357-7970, 
Sen. Mike Hall (Putnam) - 304-357-7843, 

I didn't list Sen. Don Caruth of Mercer County, even though he's on the committee and the Senate Minority Leader, because he's fighting a brain tumor. If you want to express your wishes for a speedy and thorough recovery, his office is 304-357-7901, 

You can contact Sen. Unger to thank him at 304-357-7933, 

You should write in your own words. I would say the key message is that this bill is about good government - these changes are intended to provide West Virginia citizens the opportunity to get involved and protect their properties, and to make sure the needs of West Virginia citizens are considered first.

If you've already contacted delegates about House Bill 4403, please note that THIS IS A DIFFERENT BILL. Both the State Senate and the House of Delegates are considering legislation. Both houses eventually have to agree upon the same bill, but for now we improve our chances by having a bill working its way through the Senate.

For more information, check out Bill Howley's blog at 
http://calhounpowerline.wordpress.com/ - he's got a diary about this (and earlier diaries about HB 4403). And the Martinsburg Journal wrote about Sen. Unger's bill in Saturday's paper - http://www.journal-news.net/page/content.detail/id/532193.html.

If you have family and friends living in counties represented by these gentlemen, forward this to them and ask them to contact them, too! It's important that they hear from AS MANY PEOPLE AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE!!

Thanks for lending your voice to this. If you have questions, don't hesitate to contact me or any members of the Executive Committee - Roger, Keryn, Debbie, Robin, JP, Sandie, Cathy, Steve, or Larry.

Patience Wait, Outreach Chair 
Action is needed to help get HB 4403 moving through the WV House. Please copy the following message or write your own email to the following delegates - also call them and repeat your message of support for this bill. A few minutes of your time can make all the difference. Thanks everyone!

Delegate Barker

(304) 340-3149

Delegate Shaver
(304) 340-3146

Please place HB4403 on the Energy Committee's agenda for a vote as soon as possible. I support this bill because written notification to property owners at the time of filing an application with the WV PSC is a critical piece missing from WV law. Also, West Virginia electric rate payers should not be subsidizing transmission line projects that benefit electric companies in other states. Accelerated rate recovery should only be available to power projects that help West Virginians and strengthen reliability of service in West Virginia
That's the word from Allegheny's spokesperson in this Journal article http://www.journal-news.net/page/content.detail/id/531782.html?nav=5006

Of course, the spokesman also says it's not a matter of "if" but "when" PATH will be needed and we know that's just not true, along with some of the other information about PATH presented in this article.

Apparently the utility workers' union is "cautious" after being surprised by the announcement http://www.journal-news.net/page/content.detail/id/531784.html?nav=5006

Allegheny's investors are leery of the deal 

Be sure to read Paul Evanson's bragging comments about how he has West Virginia regulators in his pocket.  His arrogance is as big or maybe bigger than his annual compensation package.
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities voted unanimously this afternoon to approve the New Jersey portion of the 500kV Susquehanna Roseland transmission line.  The project has already been approved in Pennsylvania, the other state through which it passes.  This project is another one of PJM's unneeded Project Mountaineer coal-fired transmission lines.

Cost of the $750 million project will be paid by all customers in the PJM region, which includes you and me.

See newslink http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/02/nj_utilities_board_unanimously.html

This is the second Project Mountaineer transmission line that has been approved (TrAIL was the first).  It is imperative that we redouble our so far successful efforts to stop the other two Project Mountaineer transmission lines, PATH and MAPP.
Big business news today -- Allegheny Energy announced that they will be acquired by First Energy, an energy conglomorate based in Ohio.

What does this mean for Allegheny's PATH project?  We don't know.  Stay tuned as details emerge.

For comprehensive coverage of this issue, read today's post on Calhoun Powerline http://calhounpowerline.wordpress.com/2010/02/11/holy-moly-firstenergy-to-buy-allegheny/
Watch this entertaining little video about Governor Joe Manchin http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CqnPcKX-CE

Our Governor refused to wear one of our "StopPATH" lapel stickers on a visit to Shepherdstown last fall.  His exact words were, "I can't wear that!".  But, in this video he's eager to bear the title of "Coal Crusader" and thinks we should thank and honor coal just as we do our veterans.

Is this guy for real?
There is a new post on the Calhoun Powerline asking for every West Virginian's help in contacting legislators in Charleston to advance HB4403.  The purpose of this bill is to stop accelerated rate recovery because of adverse effects of constructing transmission facilities and revising the definition of need.  The bill also requires the power companies to mail notification to all property owners within one mile of center line.

Read the post http://calhounpowerline.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/first-transmission-legislation-of-the-new-wv-session/ and contact the legislators.  Bill Howley makes it easy!
Check out this article in February's Observer  about energy audits (which evaluate your home to find energy leaks)  http://www.wvobserver.com/2010/02/energy-audits-go-green-save-greenbacks/, paying particular attention to the last paragraph:

" Allegheny Power is working with the Maryland Energy Administration to provide stimulus moneys to subsidize the cost of audits to homeowners. Allegheny Power asked the state of West Virginia to participate in the program, but the Manchin administration declined. (You might want to contact West Virginia politicians to ask them: Did they decline the offer because, as “This Old House’s” Steve Thomas says, energy efficiency could shut down unnecessary power plants?) For now, West Virginia homeowners must pay in full for an audit. A full audit can cost about $390, and a walk thru costs about $200. But your payoff starts with your next utility bill."

Good old "Regular Joe" Manchin, always on the side of us regular folks who elected him.  Have I mentioned that the power companies paid for his inaugural shindig?