To boil it down, the petition asks that the Commission order AEP and FirstEnergy to submit a plan for upgrading their transmission infrastructure in this state, particularly FE's Pruntytown-Mt. Storm 500kV line, within 30 days.
The Pruntytown-Mt. Storm line (we call it PMS, because we think the name fits!) has been identified as an impediment to power flows by PJM for years and was also singled out for re-build by Dominion in their plans for alternatives to the PATH project. PMS is over 40 years old and the Petition relates that it recently went off line due to equipment failure, and the outage did not produce transmission problems. Staff Attorney John Auville correctly points out that now is the time to rebuild and upgrade the aging fleet of high voltage transmission lines in West Virginia because we are currently in a time window of lowered demand.
The citizens of West Virginia worked together with our legislators to ensure passage of HCR 149 during the past legislative session. HCR 149 urges that the West Virginia Public Service Commission act to review the condition of the Pruntytown to Mt. Storm 500kV transmission line owned by Monongahela Power, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy, and order the rebuilding and reconductoring of that transmission line as soon as is practical. Today's Petition is the fruit of our labor.
What I find incredibly compelling is that while Mt. Storm-Doubs is in the process of being rebuilt, PMS failed, and the transmission grid didn't miss a beat. There were no massive blackouts or brownouts. We didn't all start setting up housekeeping in caves or historically regress in any way. The power companies and the PJM cartel has been pulling our leg about the dire need for additions to the transmission system.
As an added benefit, the rebuilding and modernizing of existing transmission lines can be accomplished faster and cheaper than building new transmission lines such as PATH, and rebuilds do not require the taking of private property by eminent domain. This is an incredible step in the right direction by West Virginia!
We've all been praising the state of Virginia for putting conditions on a re-filing of the PATH application, but I think West Virginia is going to push them out of the top spot with the best post-PATH move, but only if the Commission approves the petition.
Take a moment to send your comments regarding this matter to the WV Public Service Commission. You can send your comments via mail, fax or through the PSC's new online comment system. Address, fax number and the online comment form can be found here. Be sure to mark your comments with WV PSC case numbers 07-0508-E-CN and 09-0770-E-CN.
And come on over to the Coalition for Reliable Power, where we've been advocating for the rebuilding and modernizing of existing transmission infrastructure, and join us as a member and share your ideas about reliable power.