PATH has responded to the flood of letters asking FERC to take action on their "suspension."

PATH still isn't telling FERC the whole story, only that PJM determined that the need for the PATH project has "moved several years into the future."  But, what PATH presented at the VA-SCC hearing showed that the need actually moved so far "into the future" that PATH fell off the far side of PJM's 15-year planning horizon.  PATH tells FERC that PJM says PATH is currently not needed, so they are conducting "more analysis" -- more open-ended, uncertain nonsense.  PATH wants FERC to know that their March 7 letter was FYI only, and FERC should not take any action.  That's what the kid always says when they get caught with their hand in the cookie jar, isn't it?  However, PATH is concerned because your letters are "inaccurate" and "reflect a misunderstanding" of:  Commission orders, PJM's RTEP, the PATH project, and the Formula Rate.  In other words, you don't know nothin'!

For any comments that can be remotely related to the Formal Challenge, PATH hides behind their Answer.

And PATH says that FERC has no business interfering in the PJM planning process or "second guessing" PJM's decisions.  PATH's a little late here... it's already happened.  And PATH also contradicts themselves (or PJM) here.  Despite the fact that their letter states that PJM has placed PATH in abeyance for the 2011 RTEP, they further claim PJM will report the results of its "more rigorous analysis" of PATH as part of its 2011 RTEP.  So, which is it?

PATH says the Kemptown substation is going to happen, despite Frederick County's local government jurisdiction.  According to PATH, Frederick County's actions are "not final and are not binding."  PATH thinks the MD-PSC can preempt the County's authority.

PATH thinks that FERC has no business revisiting their incentives and formula rate cost recovery system.  They base this on the Commission's 2008 decision, but fail to consider more recent events, such as PATH no longer being part of PJM's RTEP.  Being an approved RTEP project was a requirement for the incentives PATH received in 2008.

PATH whines because not all persons who commented fully understand all the legal and financial/accounting intricacies of their formula rate and some of you used the word "cancel."  The word should have been "abandon", and PATH thinks all comments should be tossed aside for that reason.  Here's the deal... if the project is abandoned (what you would call canceled), then PATH would have to file with FERC to collect its stranded capital costs.  All costs would have to be prudent and the abandonment cannot be through any fault of the PATH companies.  This would be a separate filing from anything going on right now and up to FERC to decide, however, just like a PSC case, parties can intervene and present a case regarding why the expenditures are not prudent or why abandonment was PATH's fault.  What is at issue right now is that PATH is refusing to abandon their unneeded project, and pretending that they can merely "suspend" it indefinitely.

PATH thinks FERC should proceed with on-going ROE proceedings, even though their project died, and your concerns about the 14.3% ROE are "without merit."

PATH says they need to continue to spend money on their dead project.  These expenditures are doubly necessary apparently:  "...incurring reasonable and necessary expenditures necessary to maintain..."  PATH's continued expenditures include things like writing their letter to FERC, so you all are at fault for causing them to spend more money!  The rest of the money is going to be spent on those mysterious "non-development activities" (like front groups?)  And besides, PJM ordered them to continue to spend your money on their failed project.

The concerns about the vacated NIETC designations have no relevance to rate recovery, according to PATH.  As I recall, they were mentioned relevant to incentives, not rate recovery, a distinction PATH failed to grasp.  PATH also wants you to know they are not "receiving financial assistance," since they are recovering their own money invested in the ratebase.  However, they are also receiving financial assistance with their project expenses directly from ratepayers for their non-capital costs, and also a hefty return on the capital costs in the ratebase every year.  I guess since they don't like the term "financial assistance," perhaps they would prefer the term "corporate welfare?"  I dunno...

Now, here's the part you're going to love most of all!  All those stories you told FERC about misconduct on the part of PATH are FALSE.  PATH told the Commission you are all a bunch of liars.  Be sure to have a tissue handy when you read PATH's rendition of how wonderful they have been to all of you.  It's positively heart-breaking how unappreciated they have been by you.  PATH even goes so far as to vouch for PJM's credibility in their letter. 

PATH claims that their project will not harm your health or your property values and your concerns are unfounded.  Aside from that, it's none of FERC's business.

So, what should you do now?  You can let PATH have the last word, or you can answer them with another letter to FERC.  You all probably know the drill by now, but here's a link to the instructions.  If you haven't sent a letter to FERC yet, but would like to, just follow the instructions.

The tone and content of PATH's letter aren't anything new... it's the third time I've seen the same basic arrogance & denial from PATH before FERC.  PATH must think FERC is really dumb.
Dysfunctional family squabbles -- the stuff of Springer's dreams!  I think Jerry needs to drop in at PJM and stir the soup!

You've got your complaining children:

PPL EnergyPlus, LLC
PJM Power Providers Group

The inconsistencies about the state of the economy:

"The outlook for a slower economic recovery has led the Board of PJM Interconnection to direct transmission owners to suspend efforts on the Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH)."

"Electricity prices rose, reflecting the high load and the increase in economic activity, stemming from the start of economic recovery from the recession."

Nanny FERC dropping in to try to figure out why this family is so dysfunctional and administer some discipline.

PJM's mumbly, ineffectual "answers" used to avoid the issues. 

And now they want to take sole responsibility for enforcing individual state RPS mandates entirely through the building of new long distance transmission projects.  Even though they cannot seem to manage their own house, they want to dictate how individual states manage their houses.

Read more about PJM's deal with the devil on TPL.

Scary, Jerry
Remember last year's letter from eight Consumer Advocates/Peoples' Councils accusing PJM of bias and conflict of interest?

PJM's answer, dated December 24, 2010, has finally been pried out into the open only through an epic feat of persistence.

PJM completely avoided the issue of the conflict of interest presented by their choice of contractor for the Liberty study.  PJM claimed that because the conflicted contractor determined that Liberty could not be completed before the 2015 PATH in-service date, there was no need to prepare a similar cost analysis for PATH.  Cost is not important when there's such a reliability crisis, so therefore, PATH is the only solution, no matter how much it really ends up costing.  Conflict of interest?  Bias?  Hello?

Regarding the CAD/OPC concerns about PJM's failure to consider the Mt. Storm - Doubs rebuild's increased capacity in their planning, PJM responded with this gem. 

"PJM staff explained that the analysis showed the Mt. Storm-Doubs rebuild -- by itself -- would resolve only the overload on the Mt. Storm-Doubs line, and would not solve the other expected reliability violations in the region."

This is particularly ridiculous in retrospect, now that MSD has finally been acknowledged as one of the major factors responsible for PATH falling off the end of PJM's 15 year planning horizon and subsequent removal from the 2011 RTEP. 

Lying is a terrible habit that can be quite embarrassing!
Here's your laugh of the day, Pam!

This bizarre translation of a February 5 Journal Article just turned up.  I have no idea what language this got translated into that resulted in a re-translation back to English that went so horribly wrong, but it gives us some new, descriptive words to have fun with :-)

For instance:

AEP's John Amos plant is described as, "a coal-fired boar іn St. Albans."

And speaking of AEP, their new name is, "American Thrilling Potential."

PJM is, "a informal classification concerned wіth credentials stirring grids."

You may now refer to me as, "anti-PATH romantic Keryn Newman."

But it wouldn't be nice to refer to Chuck Penn of Dominion as, "retard Penn wіth Province."

Maybe that's because he described MSD's problem as, "thеrе′s a complicated bucket οn thе existent line,"

And about PATH, "PATH іѕ a due high-voltage appetite delivery line thаt, іf authorized аnԁ completed, wουƖԁ rυn approximately 275 miles frοm a coal-fired boar іn St. Albans tο Kemptown, Md., channel раrtѕ οf West Virginia – including Jefferson County – аѕ good аѕ Virginia аnԁ Maryland.  Thе plan іѕ a corner try between Allegheny Energy аnԁ American Thrilling Potential. PATH hаѕ a projected іn-service date οf Jun 1, 2015, аnԁ a projected cost οf $2.1 billion, according tο PJM Interconnection, whісh іѕ a informal classification concerned wіth credentials stirring grids."

What's your favorite line?

This should be required reading for greedy corporations who think they're going to come here and buy our island for $24 worth of beads and trinkets.  Too bad PATH didn't read it first.
Virginia SCC Hearing Examiner Skirpan issued his findings and recommendations regarding the final disposition of PATH's second failed application today.

He does it with style, and just enough underhanded sarcasm to make it a great read.

He begins the discussion by comparing PATH to a scene in a movie:

"Like the character played by Jimmy Stewart in the 1971 movie, Fools’ Parade, who attempts to escape a pursuing sheriff by hopping a boxcar only end up back where he started, we find that we have traveled in loop back to the beginning. A similar PATH-VA motion to withdraw
led to the Order Granting Withdrawal, which ended PATH-VA’s Previous Application. A little over thirteen months later, PATH-VA is asking for permission to withdraw its Application in this proceeding."

Don't miss the little heart-shaped bullets in the text of the discussion.  It was a little hard to concentrate because I was laughing so hard!

No matter how much he may have wanted to do more, it wouldn't have made much difference in the long run:

"I sympathize with those Respondents and persons that will be frustrated with the lack of finality, or the possibility of a future application for the PATH Project, or some other similar transmission project. However, I find that to indicate that a dismissal or denial of PATH-VA’s
Application is “with prejudice” would be misleading and unlikely to serve as a bar to a future application for the PATH Project based on new facts and circumstances."

And here's why he recommended withdrawal, with conditions placed on a possible third attempt at an application.  Makes sense to me:

"Counsel for Frederick County contended that in its pleadings, PATH-VA has admitted there is no need for the project.21 Frederick County maintained that the Commission should take this admission and use it as a basis to deny the Application.22 PATH-VA asserted that the Commission could not deny an application on a record that does not exist.23 While PATH-VA was unable to identify a practical distinction between dismissal and withdrawal, PATH-VA argued that the Application should be in the control of the Applicant to withdraw if it no longer supports the Application... Moreover, I find that whether the Application is withdrawn or dismissed would have no impact on the filing of a new application based on new facts and circumstances.  I agree with Frederick County and find that the Commission could deny the Application based on admissions made in the Applicant’s pleadings."

And PATH's final playing of their FERC Joker card wraps up the logic:

"In this proceeding, counsel for PATH-VA affirmed that “a voluntary withdrawal will give no grounds for PATH to seek a FERC approval of the line.”27 It is recognized that the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Wilderness Coalition28 to invalidate the United States Department of Energy’s
designation of national interest electric transmission corridors (“NIETCs”), significantly reduced the possibility of FERC jurisdiction. Nonetheless, I do not believe the risk of FERC jurisdiction has been eliminated completely. Thus, with only the slightest risk of FERC jurisdiction, and no practical difference in results and impact on a future application, I find PATH-VA’s Motion to
Withdraw should be granted."

Regarding PATH's refusal to provide the scenarios that were due March 15, Skirpan recommends that the following be required (but go read it youself, the little hearts are a scream!):

"More specifically, I find there was general agreement for PATH-VA:
  to submit the solution of the “Base Case” and “Base Case + Warren” as text files;
  to provide in PSS/e electronic format, the power flow tests used to identify NERC thermal violations for the “Base Case” and “Base Case + Warren” scenarios;
  to report the results of the studies summarized on the TEAC Slide for the “Base Case” and “Base Case + Warren” in a format and level of detail equivalent to
Exhibit Nos. 1-3, of Mr. Paul McGlynn’s prefiled direct testimony in this proceeding; and
  to provide tables of generation loaded into the “Base Case” and “Base Case+Warren” and what generation was reduced in the at-risk scenario."

Skirpan also requires a new application be based on a completed 2012 RTEP, which won't be complete until early 2013, which gives Virginia a two year PATH-free vacation.  It doesn't necessarily give the rest of us the same benefit, if PATH chooses to avoid Virginia on its next attempt.

And, finally, here's the recommendation (bet you thought I'd never get there, but this thing has to be savored for full enjoyment):

"In conclusion, based on the pleadings and argument, I find that:
(1) PATH-VA’s Motion to Withdraw should be granted;
(2) PATH-VA should be directed to preserve the analyses underlying the TEAC Slide;
(3) PATH-VA should be directed to file the following information in this docket: (i) the solution of the “Base Case” and “Base Case + Warren” as text files; (ii) the power flow tests used to identify NERC thermal violations for the “Base Case” and “Base Case + Warren” scenarios in PSS/e electronic format; (iv) the results of the studies summarized on the TEAC Slide for the “Base
Case” and “Base Case + Warren” in a format and level of detail equivalent to Exhibit Nos. 1-3, of Mr. Paul McGlynn’s prefiled direct testimony in this proceeding; and (iv) tables of generation loaded into the “Base Case” and “Base Case +Warren” and what generation was reduced in the atrisk scenario.
(4) Any future application for the PATH Project should include information regarding PJM’s 2012 or later RTEP;

(5) Any future application for the PATH Project should include an analysis of changes in circumstances (as measured from the “Base Case” of the TEAC Slide), including changes in generation, demand response, and energy efficiency resources;
(6) Any future application for the PATH Project should provide information on the PATH Project’s original routes (including routes that do not impact Virginia), consistent with other proposed and alternative routes; and
(7) The Protective Ruling in this proceeding should be amended as provided herein.

One more speed bump in AEP & FE's rocky path to a ratepayer-funded pot of gold.

UPDATE:  Here's the first (and only) decent news article to come out of the Virginia recommendation.

Here's what PATH's failure is has already cost you, and will continue to cost you for years (approved by FERC in 2008, not PJM, however):

"The two companies have already spent $120 million on site work, engineering studies and other expenses moving the project forward.  Since the project was approved by PJM Interconnection, which regulates the power supply in Maryland and 12 other states and the District of Columbia, the costs are recoverable from all customers in the grid operator’s territory."

And you're supposed to sit patiently holding your wallet open for how long?

"The PJM board did not say how long it would suspend the efforts, but did say the project was not being abandoned. Instead, PJM said it would continue its analysis but it is off the list of projects for this year."

“If they [PJM] come back and say we need PATH, then we can get the project back up and running,” Colafella said.

Ahhh... there's our li'l Coal Fella, spinning like a top!  And what if PJM comes back and says we DON'T need PATH?  What then, Coal Fella?  How are the ratepayers going to get their wallets back up and running?  Honestly, his quotes are getting dumber and dumber...

Proof positive:  “The investment we’ve already made won’t be lost though, because the project is not lost — just suspended,” Colafella said.

And when the project IS lost, does that mean our investment is lost, or just "suspended?"

"As of now, we have halted nearly all activities related to PATH,” Doug Colafella, FirstEnergy manager of external communications.

Yup, I see that you have suspended nearly all activities, except for looking stupid in the press.  You're still doing a bang up job with that activity.

No matter how many boxes of green dye AEP & FE add to the wash water along with their dead PATH project, it will never be "green!"

I'm sure you all have seen TPL's post about PJM's new RTEP method that we dug up over the weekend.  The big Midwest wind developers are urging PJM to include individual state Renewable Portfolio Standards in their planning process as a new driver for "need" for huge, new transmission projects.  First PATH was needed for "reliability", to prevent brownouts and blackouts.  When that evaporated, PATH was about relieving "congestion" in Maryland and lowering the cost of electricity in that state.  When that evaporated, PATH went to ground to create new reasons why we "need" this unnecessary, costly boondoggle.  Now PJM is attempting to insert themselves into the regulatory scene by babysitting public policy and ensuring that the states meet their individual RPS mandates.  This means that transmission projects would now be "needed" simply to provide other states, such as Maryland, with the renewables they need to meet their RPS goals.

Where do the power companies think these renewables are going to come from?  As Bill shows, AEP & Exelon and a Midwest wind front group (compare them to the telltale signs of a front group here - first clue - their phone number is a cell phone) think these renewables should be pumped into east coast states via huge, new transmission lines thousands of miles long.  Notice that MAREC represents land based wind outfits.  None of the off-shore wind companies who are developing the Atlantic wind projects are members.

Where does PJM think these renewables are going to come from?  Take a look at PJM's proposed wind connection map.  Compare it to the DOE's wind resources map.  Looks like PJM thinks there's lots of wind to be had in West Virginia.  If they manage to pull off the RPS goals planning scheme, plan on seeing a rebirth of the zombie freshly greenwashed.

Where's the logic in creating environmental destruction, taking land from thousands of citizens, and costing ratepayers billions of dollars to build new transmission lines hundreds of miles long in order to meet renewable goals in Maryland when a better renewable resource is right there at Maryland's fingertips in the form of off-shore wind?  Not only that, but relieving "congestion" in Maryland with new transmission lines like PATH also increases the cost of electricity for others upstream of the bottleneck.  "Upstream of the bottleneck" is us, the ones who sit between the proposed generation and the load.  Why would it be just and reasonable to increase our costs in order to lower costs for others who are refusing to solve their own problems?  Reality is that Maryland is not refusing to solve their own problems and meet their own renewable goals.  The east coast states are developing off-shore wind to meet their RPS mandates, however, PJM (and its most influential members -- the 800-pound gorillas like AEP & Exelon) wants to dictate where renewables come from in order to create new transmission projects and fatten their bottom line.

PJM's RPPTF, the task force responsible for creating this new planning scenario, is meeting again today.  Check out some of the documents on the agenda here

Keep an eye on this!  As Bill said, we're going to be moving a lot of this over to our Coalition for Reliable Power group and you will be seeing some big changes to the group in the very near future.

PATH is not green.  Never has been, never will be.

This coming Friday night, April 15th, The Journal will be hosting a Candidate Forum, starring all the gubernatorial hopefuls (or at least all the main ones).  The forum will be held at Musselman High School and begins at 7:00 p.m.  Come wearing your StopPATH t-shirt and join our group!  We have submitted several questions for the candidates to The Journal's coordinator that you'll find interesting.

And speaking of the Governor's race, Patience and I met John Perdue over the weekend at one of his town hall meetings in Shepherdstown.  He had some interesting ideas when I questioned him about his utility rate increase "moratorium."  Yes, he knows that's not the complete answer and that power company pork, imprudent expenditures and sloppy accounting needs to end... or at least he does now :-)  He also said he wants to overhaul the WV-PSC.  He was shocked to learn that the commissioners have ties to the industry and that needs to end (ok, we laughed here, couldn't help it!)  He would also like to increase the number of commissioners and have them represent different areas of the state, instead of our current Charleston good ol' boy crew.  I can't quote him exactly, but he thinks PATH was a stupid idea and is glad it was stopped (of course we told him it's merely been turned into a zombie-project).  He favors strong regulation on Marcellus shale drilling that both protects landowners and brings real cash benefits to our state.  He went on a lovely anti-corporate rant and said that out-of-state corporate dominance in Charleston needs to end.  Interesting...  I should have tried pasting a StopPATH sticker on his lapel just to see if he'd rip it out of my hand, like Manchin did that time he ended up wearing it in his palm in front of the TV cameras.  That would have been the real test...

Hope to see you all Friday night!

We finally have a firm date and a plan is shaping up!  Mark your calendar for the evening of Saturday, May 21st.  All StopPATH members and friends, as well as members of fellow opposition groups throughout West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland, will be warmly welcomed.  If you'll have to travel a long way, we may be able to put you up for the night, so there really is no excuse not to join us.

Steve is stocking up on the Raging Bitch and Arrogant Bastard ales... come drink a toast to the death of PATH!

More details coming soon...
If you're a landowner on the north-eastern end of PATH who also has the Mt. Storm - Doubs 500kV line on your property, you are invited to join with other similarly affected landowners to share information about the progress of the rebuild, and the conduct of Dominion during the process, via a private web-based program facilitated by me (no power company people, just us landowners). 

If there's one thing PATH has taught us, it's that there's safety in numbers, and that a collective voice is always louder than an individual one.

Dominion promised to treat affected landowners fairly and with respect, and we intend to hold them to it.  Now it's showtime for Dominion!  They so thoroughly enjoyed laughing at the ways we made PATH's progress difficult and their employees look foolish, I'm certain they intend to keep all their promises to us :-)

If you'd like to join the group and share information and experiences with other landowners, email me.