The blowhard public relations firms, with their well-worn "playbooks" of how to win transmission line siting battles, just keep on tooting their own horns.  Today I came across this waste o' money trip to Calgary in the fall:  "Effective Public Outreach for Transmission Projects: A Course in Fundamentals" will be a colossal waste of resources, but that's okay, the power company PR hacks will have a good time in Calgary in early October and the ratepayers will end up footing the bill for it.

So, these guys think they wrote the "playbook" on effective public outreach for transmission projects, do they?  That's funny... when I went to the website of the PR firm where both of the "instructors" are partners, I came away with the same tired plan PATH tried to use on all of us.  Open houses.  Idiotic advertising.  Front groups.  Shady land agents.  Payoffs.  Increased project cost because of the payoffs...  I saw nothing new or unique, and certainly nothing that I hadn't seen before.  Here's the head moron's "mantra":  “I elect transmission lines, power plants and pipelines to public office.”  Yes, this guy is a real tool.  Click to watch their little movie about their "successful" project.  See anything new that might be effective?  Nah, me neither... I just saw a bunch of stuff that PATH tried, which failed.

According to the brochure, here's who should attend this fiction-fest:  1)  Utility employees with regulatory, public communications, and local affairs responsibilities; 2) Siting, right of way, and land management professionals;  3)  Transmission project managers; 4)  Regulators and regulatory staff;  5) Utility construction contractors and consultants; and 6)  Environmental and community group representatives.  Wait a minute... they think environmental and community group representatives should spend $1250 on admission, plus travel and expenses to go to Calgary?  Shows how out-of-touch these schmucks are, they think we have money to waste on their tired, old crap when we've been getting a better education for free during the past three years.

So, I hope the utility company guys have a nice vacation in Canada because they're going to be learning a bunch of "technique" that doesn't work anymore.  The opposition has all your stupid tricks; odious buffoonery and underhanded schemes in a little "playbook" of their own, along with tried-and-true methods of neutralization guaranteed to make your project fail and your corporate reputation tank while you run away screaming with your tail between your legs.  And still the opposition presses on... because we have more chapters in our book  :-)
Ever wondered what AEP CEO Michael Morris is going to do with himself in retirement (besides turning into a powerless, useless, old man)?  Well, wonder no more... now he's Steamboat Mikey!

I just got this barf-a-licious press release about AEP River Operations dedicating a towboat in his honor.  The M/V Michael G. Morris will be dragging coal down the Mississippi so that it can be burned in order to continue to pollute the air you breathe for years to come!

He may retire, but he'll never really be gone  :-)
Remember all the bleating about a "train wreck" AEP CEO Michael Morris was doing a couple of months ago about implementation of the EPA's Clean Air rules?  He told the press that the EPA rules would cause a disaster with mass unemployment, sky-high electric rates and huge blackouts.  Guess what?  He was full of hot air, again.  I'm sure you're not surprised about that, are you?

He also told a financial analyst on an earnings call that coal plant retirements would cause a new need for the PATH project.  Well, that didn't happen either.

PJM has released their analysis on Mikey's supposed reliability crisis.  Coal Capacity at Risk for Retirement in PJM:  Potential Impacts of the Finalized EPA Cross State Air Pollution Rule and Proposed National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants.

And here's the money quote:  Resource Adequacy Does Not Currently Appear at Risk in Spite of Projected Retirements.

"Even with almost 7,000 MW less coal capacity clearing for the 2014/2015 Delivery Year, PJM estimates the RTO will carry a reserve margin of 19.6 percent for the Delivery Year, including the demand and capacity commitments of FRR entities. Even with the potential retirement of coal capacity already announced by FRR entities, there are also announced commitments to replace a portion of that capacity with new gas-fired capacity such that the RTO would still carry a reserve margin at or above of the target 15.3 percent installed reserve margin. Add into the mix the potential for new entry from Demand Resources, as has been the trend in recent years, and resource adequacy does not appear to be threatened."

Chooo-Chooooo!  All Aboard, Mikey!
In a previous post, we told you about FERC's new plan to take over NIETC designation in an attempt at trumping state authority to site new transmission projects.  This isn't a new plan, but simply another attempt at a plan that has been kicking around for more than two years.  In fact, the plan seems to have been born right around the time former FERC Commissioner Joseph Kelliher left the Commission and went to work as a lobbyist for NextEra Energy, Inc.  When current FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff was appointed, he was handed Kelliher's torch to federalize transmission siting and neutralize state authority. 

In the wake of the U.S. 4th Circuit decision in Piedmont Environmental Council v FERC that found FERC could not exercise its "backstop authority" and take over siting of a transmission line in the event a state issued a denial, FERC and the industry went back to Congress to "put in place" new legislation that created interregional planning and cost allocation to promote utility scale renewables and also made PEC v FERC moot by specifically granting FERC backstop authority in the event of a state's denial of a transmission line.   As discussed in an Energy Law Journal article from 2009, page 454, The 2009 Waxman-Markey bill H.R. 2454, Reid's S. 539, and Bingaman's S. 2454 were supposed to take care of FERC's and the industry's "little problem". 

Chairman Wellinghoff even testified before Congress during this time, begging for federal control of transmission siting in order to transport utility scale renewables great distances to load centers.  He also mentioned the need for interregional planning and cost allocation in order to achieve this huge, expensive grid build out.

"In summary, to achieve the Nation’s renewable energy goals, Congress and Federal and state regulators, including the Commission, must address in a timely manner the issues of transmission planning, transmission siting and transmission cost allocation. Congressional action to address all three of these related areas, particularly additional siting authority to build EHV transmission lines to accommodate high quality, location-constrained renewable energy, would provide greater ability to achieve these important goals. For example, both the bill that you, Mr. Chairman, have circulated and the bill introduced by Senator Reid last week address all three of these areas. I would be happy to work with the Congress as you consider legislation to provide a regulatory framework for tackling the challenging energy issues that we face, and to provide Commission staff technical assistance respecting any legislation the Committee may consider."

However, none of these pieces of legislation succeeded.  FERC and the industry had to find another way to federalize transmission siting in order to build their desired "national grid."

When their initiatives in Congress failed, FERC and the industry began to explore achieving their goals through manipulation of existing laws in order to bestow FERC with the authority it was not granted by Congress. 

Last fall, the Congressional Research Service was tasked with creating a report that "looks at the history of transmission siting and the reason behind the movement toward an increased federal role in siting decisions, explains the new federal role in transmission siting
pursuant to EPAct, and discusses legal issues related to this and any potential future expansions of the federal role.

According to this report, "The location and permitting of electricity transmission lines and facilities have traditionally been the exclusive province of the states, with only limited exceptions. However, the increasing complexity of the interstate transmission grid, as well as widespread power outages in recent history, has resulted in calls for an increased role for the federal government in transmission siting in an attempt to enhance reliability."

Get familiar with this theme, because it's prevalent throughout all the documents I've linked in this post.  Those "widespread power outages" apparently refers to the 2003 blackout in parts of the Northeast.  What's missing from this equation is the fact that the wide geographical reach of the blackout was caused by the increasing complexity and interconnected nature of our ever-expanding grid.  The blackout was caused by human error and lack of transmission line right-of-way maintenance as determined by a joint U.S.-Canadian task force.  It was not caused by lack of transmission infrastructure, therefore, building new transmission lines won't prevent another blackout.  A future blackout will only be exacerbated by addition of new transmission lines.

In addition, where are those "calls for an increased role for the federal government in transmission siting" coming from?  They're obviously not coming from the states or the citizen stakeholders, so they must be coming from the industry or the federal government itself. 

"The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct; P.L. 109-58) established a role for the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in making transmission siting decisions. The act directed DOE to create “transmission corridors” in locations that would help to ease strain on the interstate electricity transmission grid. The act also granted FERC secondary authority over transmission siting in the corridors. This new federal role in a decisionmaking process that had previously been the province of state governments was predictably met with resistance from those seeking to protect local and regional interests. However, the process of creating “transmission corridors” and increasing the federal role in transmission siting has moved forward. Indeed, there have been calls for further expansion of the federal role in transmission siting by some policymakers and commentators. This report looks at the history of transmission siting and the reason  behind the movement toward an increased federal role in siting decisions, explains the new federal role in transmission siting pursuant to EPAct, and discusses legal issues related to this and any potential future expansions of the federal role."

Policymakers?  What is that word supposed to mean?  Who are these people?  Please read the entire report yourself.  I guarantee it will be a real eye opener.

"One of the most prominent commentators on transmission siting policy has been former FERC Chair Joseph Kelliher. Kelliher served as a FERC commissioner for five years and as FERC chair for three years. In a letter written to Senator Bingaman dated January of 2009, Kelliher, in the midst of his departure as FERC chair, wrote that Congress should grant FERC “exclusive and preemptive federal siting for transmission facilities used in interstate commerce.” Kelliher stressed the importance of expanding transmission facilities in order to address reliability concerns, encourage competitive wholesale markets, and respond to climate change concerns (by allowing “green” energy sources increased access to the grid). Kelliher was critical of the existing framework for electric transmission facility siting, including the EPAct transmission corridor scheme, saying that it “promises years of litigation, while diffusing responsibility for siting electric transmission facilities.”

And Kelliher scored a cushy, new job with a Midwest wind producer, NextEra Energy, who needed new transmission lines to move their product around the country, and are the ones who originally proposed this power grab to preempt state authority to FERC.  What a coincidence!

The CRS report concludes that the legal problem presented by state authority to site transmission lines can be solved through use of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, giving Wellinghoff the green light for this new coup designed to put federal transmission siting in place.

"Legal precedent suggests that federal involvement with transmission siting would likely pass constitutional muster, assuming a connection to interstate commerce is shown." 

As both StopPATH WV and The Power Line told you in the spring, there is a huge race going on between midwest wind and offshore wind to corner the immensely profitable renewables market in the huge, coastal load centers.  However, energy corporations looking to profit from midwest wind need a $220B "national grid" to win the race.  Offshore wind is lagging behind, but it doesn't require a bunch of new land-based transmission due to its proximity to coastal load centers.  The concept of transporting midwest renewables thousands of miles to load centers doesn't make sense, physically or economically, when a different, more promising, renewable potential is located near load and is expected to be available in the very near future.  It looks like FERC has chosen to side with land-based wind by attempting to enable their necessary "national grid" that is going to be unjustly expensive to consumers and necessitate hundreds of thousands of citizens to sacrifice their properties for new transmission line rights-of-way.

The Energy Law Journal article comes to a conclusion that NIETC corridors and FERC backstop authority have not been effective in encouraging new transmission, and it has nothing to do with P.E.C v FERCIn fact, new transmission was on the rise, even before the EPAct 2005.  The article concludes that the real driver has been FERC's transmission incentives.  In fact, they quote AEP as saying, "the Commission‘s incentive policies are the single biggest contributor to rapidly growing investor interest in new interstate transmission investment."  FERC currently has an open NOI on their transmission incentives policy.  Don't miss your opportunity to comment on the single biggest factor driving expensive and unnecessary transmission projects -- deadline is September 12.

Former FERC Commissioner Suedeen Kelly's dissent of Order No. 689 (2006) summed up the problem with federal transmission line siting quite well:

"The authority to lawfully deny a permit is critically important to the States for ensuring that the interests of local communities and their citizens are protected. What the Commission does today is a significant inroad into traditional state transmission siting authority. It gives states two options: either issue a permit, or we’ll do it for them. Obviously this is no choice. This is preemption."

Chairman's Wellinghoff's "three issues" mentioned in his 2009 testimony before Congress (planning, cost allocation and siting) are now being accomplished by doing an end run around CongressFERC Order No. 1000 took care of the planning and cost allocation.  It's not surprising that a review of the more than 60 requests for rehearing filed on the Order contain accusation after accusation that FERC has overstepped its statutory authority.  Now the last piece is being achieved by FERC's recent plan to assume DOE's authority to create NIETCs and wield the sledgehammer of interstate commerce to prevent any further meddling by states, environmental groups or citizens.  FERC's recent self-annointed "authority" will most likely be tied up in the courts for many years, which will allow offshore wind to catch up and ultimately allow sanity to prevail.

As long as energy corporate "persons" are permitted to continue unfettered lobbying of both Congress and FERC to advance their financial interests, we'll continue to see higher energy costs, a more vulnerable electric grid, eminent domain land grabs, increased federal preemption, a slow economic recovery in coastal states that are prevented from developing their own local renewables, and subversion of your individual rights.

The Coalition for Reliable Power and Energy Efficient West Virginia hosted a public forum, Real Solutions to Rising Electric Rates, in Martinsburg last night. 

The forum was well attended and the audience got all fired up when they heard that FirstEnergy/Potomac Edison, as required by stipulations in their merger settlement, is proposing an ineffective Energy Efficiency Program in West Virginia that is much weaker than programs FirstEnergy is required to comply with in neighboring states.  The program will be paid for by residential consumers, including its marketing and administrative costs and reimbursement for resulting lower sales revenue to the company.  Benefits offered to consumers via the program are extremely limited.  Their program offers assistance to commercial/industrial customers with upgrading lighting (although this class of customers will not contribute to the cost of the program in their rates).  It also offers free CFL bulbs and faucet aerators for low-income residential customers.  That's it -- there's nothing in it for the rest of the residential customers who will finance this program through new rate increases.  In fact, the audience was so outraged and motivated, several checked back in with me on the way out to make sure we had their e-mail address for future calls to action.  Even if you missed the meeting, we're still asking you to take action detailed below.

Now that I've given you the punch line first, here's the background that we covered last night.  We explained how a regulated utility systems works and the mission and procedures of the PSC in a rate case.  Next we explained how the FirstEnergy subsidiaries operate in the state -- how electricity gets to your house and where it comes from.  Cathy Kunkel of EEWV gave a very informative talk explaining the ratemaking process, the different types of rate cases, why rates have increased over 30% in the past couple of years (the cost of coal!), and informed us that Potomac Edison & Mon Power will be filing for another rate increase next month.  Mike Harman of EEWV talked with the audience about energy efficiency measures and how they can dramatically reduce electric bills.  If FirstEnergy had a more effective program that helped more consumers with energy efficiency measures, even those who did not participate would benefit through lower bills.  As long as our consumption of electricity continues to rise, we are subject to higher costs to purchase peak power and the cost to build additional generation plants and transmission lines.  If we can reduce our use overall, we can avoid higher prices because the cheapest power plant and transmission lines are the ones that FirstEnergy doesn't have to build.  Mike also introduced the concept of demand response, where consumers of large amounts of power agree to lower their usage at times of peak demand in exchange for payments from the power company.  He shared many success stories of West Virginia businesses and school systems who have scored big financial benefits from energy efficiency and demand response programs.  He compared FirstEnergy's program goals in West Virginia with those FirstEnergy is required to comply with in neighboring states, which shocked the audience about what FirstEnergy is trying to get away in this state.

Cathy wrapped things up with a call to action for all Potomac Edison and Mon Power customers:
Get involved with EEWV and the Coalition for Reliable Power -- visit their websites and sign up!

Additional meetings are being planned around the state this fall.  The next meeting will be in Lewisburg, at City Hall, on August 31 at 7:00 p.m.  Check out the complete meeting schedule here.  If you'd like to attend another meeting offered in the Eastern Panhandle, let EEWV and the Coalition know!

Here's a link to The Journal's article about the forum.  The meeting was also covered by WEPM radio.

The Power Line has the scoop on FERC's new plan to utilize DOE's failed NIETC designation power to usurp the authority of state Public Service Commissions to site new transmission lines.  This means that the power companies will be back to playing the FERC backstop authority joker card in state approval processes in an attempt to force state authorities to approve applications for new transmission projects.

Here's a link to FERC's plan.

The NIETCs (National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors) were a product of the industry-designed 2005 EPAct that was supposed to ease opposition to new transmission projects.  The DOE was tasked with developing "congestion" corridors that were creating a supposed transmission emergency necessitating new projects to ensure reliability and alleviate "congestion."  Under the original plan, a project sited in one of these corridors could not be denied by a state, or authority to site the line and grant the power of eminent domain to the power company would be given to FERC, removing the project from state authority and control.  In the PATH case, the power companies continually played this joker card on the state commissions as a way to make the states go along with numerous PATH-requested delays, lest they lose any control of siting.

However, the language of the EPAct only gave FERC backstop authority in the event that a state failed to make a decision within one year of application.  It did not give FERC backstop authority in the event that a transmission application was denied within one year.  This is a fine example of the industry trying to pervert existing law to suit their purposes.  The Piedmont Environmental Council took them on at the U.S. 4th Circuit in 2009, and won.

In February of this year, the U.S. 9th Circuit vacated the NIETCs that DOE had created and remanded the case back to DOE for another "congestion" study.  This effectively made FERC's backstop authority useless as a tool for PATH, which was sited in one of the vacated corridors.

Now FERC wants to take over designation of NIETCs and thinks they can do it better than DOE did.  They're trying to frame it as a "national security" issue -- just one step above the power company propaganda machine that's been screeching about "brownouts and blackouts" in an attempt to scare the American people into allowing new transmission projects that do nothing but increase corporate shareholder profits.  FERC's mission is to regulate utilities to benefit the interests of consumers.  FERC's getting a little far afield in their conspiracy with the energy corporations to build a "national grid" that the consumers don't want or need and cannot afford.

This is an industry attempt, aided by FERC, to subvert your state's authority to protect your interests.  If you think driving 6 hours to Charleston to defend yourself against eminent domain and the inherent health risks of living in close proximity to transmission lines is burdensome, along with spending your life savings on a lawyer and experts to protect your interests, imagine how much stress and money it's going to cost you to defend yourself at FERC when your state PSC is bound and gagged over in the corner and can't do anything to help you.

FERC is also trying to get control of the NIETCs while state authorities are still spinning and filing requests for rehearing of their recent Order No. 1000 and aren't paying attention to the other shoe that has dropped.  NARUC (National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners) recently filed their request for rehearing, stating:

The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, which had cautioned FERC about preserving states' rights in the proposed rule, argues in its request for rehearing that the order "oversteps FERC's jurisdiction, fails to recognize the states' decision-making authority, and may have the unintended consequence of actually stalling transmission planning and cost allocation."

If they're complaining about Order No. 1000 usurping states' rights... they need to refocus their attention on this issue!

It's all part of the industry's grand scheme to federalize transmission siting and run roughshod over those "NIMBYS", environmental organizations, and state authorities who have been effectively preventing costly, unneeded transmission projects from being built.  If you're a regular blog reader here, you've heard all this before.

Now they've got a plan from FERC to take over transmission siting, not by changing the law, but by manipulating the existing law.  And now it's all about midwest wind so that the environmental organizations that fought the manipulation of law in the past will be mollified into not challenging them this time.  If manipulation of law was wrong last time, it's still wrong this time, no matter the color of the electricity flowing through unneeded transmission lines. 

By eliminating one enemy, the industry is left with only opposition by states and citizens, so polish up your army boots and prepare for battle. 

UPDATE:  Click here to read more about this issue!

Sugarloaf Conservancy filed their comments on FERC's NOI Promoting Transmission Investment Through Pricing Reform yesterday.

Sugarloaf wants FERC to do more to promote the use of advanced technology in transmission projects and the rebuilding of existing lines in lieu of new projects.  They also pointed out to FERC that PATH should be abandoned.

Read Sugarloaf's comments here.

So, where are YOUR comments?
Lots of serious news to write about today... but first, we're going to have a little fun  :-)  Too much seriousness always sends me off to the snarky land of satire and parody.  I just can't help it, it's a natural reaction.  I also spend way too much time with Patience, and the two of us together usually results in very evil ideas. 

While checking out the press from last night's Real Solutions to Rising Electric Rates forum in the Journal this morning, we spotted a story about the earthquake put together by our beloved Journal reporters, who put a great deal of effort into trying to scrounge up a local earthquake-related story.  Perhaps the 'quake destroyed power plants, or maybe transmission/distribution lines, resulting in power outages?  Nope.  But while they had FirstEnergy PR dork Todd Meyers on the phone, they got to hear his dramatic account of the earthquake as it was felt in Greensburg, PA.  Perhaps what Todd felt wasn't an earthquake at all, but just a few portentous rumbles caused by what his former PATH opponents were doing at the time, cooking up more fun surprises for Todd in the near future :-)

From Todd's description, it appears that the earthquake's effects were much the same as the effects of Todd's complete and utter public relations failure in Frederick County, Maryland, last fall.  Todd tried desperately to drum up some support, any support, for PATH's proposed gigantic substation in the middle of a cluster of 1350 homes.  However, Todd was thwarted at every turn, teased incessantly by a big, scary hillbilly, and laughed at while doing the "walk of shame" out of Winchester Hall time after time when PATH lost every battle.  PATH's lawyers recently whined in their appeal in Circuit Court about how they got their butts kicked on the public relations front by the citizen opposition groups in Frederick last fall.

And, therefore, here's what happens when Todd's little world rocks, whether it's caused by an earthquake or being set upon by organized citizen opposition:

Potomac Edison spokesman Todd Meyers said he felt the earthquake in his office at the company's Greensburg, Pa., headquarters...  it's an experience he won't soon forget.

"I'd say it shook my office for about 10 seconds and it was definitely a weird sensation, sort of rocking back and forth but also more like a wave and then a rippling," Meyers said.

Todd should stay out of our local newspaper and not call attention to himself.  It's safer for him that way.

In the wake of PJM's decision to hold PEPCO's MAPP Project in abeyance that was announced on Friday, a whole bunch of misinformation showed up in the press.  Anyone want to take a wild guess how that happened?

An article in Delmarva Now, MAPP Completion Date Pushed Back to 2019, gets just about everything wrong, starting with the headline.  PJM's letter to PEPCO made this statement about MAPP's in-service date, "Based on these latest results, the PJM Board has decided to hold the MAPP project in abeyance, retaining it in its 2011 RTEP with a 2019-2021 in-service date."  The "new completion date" is an uncertain three year period, not 2019.  Read The Power Line's post about MAPP and PJM's long-term forecasting, which relies on extrapolations, and not known facts.

The article also blames the abeyance of the project on "changes in electricity usage."  There are a whole bunch of factors in play here, "electricity usage" is way down on the list of uncertainties and certainly not an accurate portrayal of main reason for the delay.  PJM gets the blame for this misinformation.  Check this quote from PJM's Ray Dotter, "Our board's decision is not to cancel the project but to do enough to keep it alive," said Ray Dotter, spokesman for PJM. "There is so much uncertainty that we need to be constantly looking at usage."  So, what does the PJM Board consider to be the technical, real number definition of "do enough to keep it alive"?  Will we see a revised projected transmission revenue requirement for the MAPP project?  How much more ratepayer funding is going to be poured down the uncertain MAPP rat hole, exactly?

The cost of the project stated in the article is off by more than a billion dollars.  Actual cost is estimated at $1.2B, not $1.2M.

"The MAPP was proposed as a way to offset eventual system overloads and blackouts when system predictions were created in previous years. Newer models, however, show mass power outages are not likely until after 2015."

Wow!  Blackouts and mass power outages after 2015?  What a bunch of crap!  Sensationalism at its best!  "Mass power outages" are not likely at all, ever.  The power companies have been using "blackouts" to fear monger support for their unneeded transmission projects for years.  Reality is that "violations" MAPP is supposed to fix could only happen if a whole bunch of stuff is taken offline at the same time, a very unlikely scenario.  There are cheaper and easier fixes for these unlikely scenarios than building a $1.2B new transmission line.  MAPP is overkill based on unlikely scenarios.

"Creation of wind farms off the Maryland and Delaware coasts could also accelerate the need for the MAPP to transport energy they create throughout the mid-Atlantic."

This is also completely ludicrous.  Off shore wind farms aren't going to create a future need to pump wind power to Dominion's Possum Point converted gas-fired generating plant's substation, where MAPP currently originates.  Just because the plan for MAPP exists does not mean that reversing it's beginning and end creates a feasible or effective plan to distribute off shore wind energy.  If we're going to invest billions in off shore wind, that project deserves its own set of transmission plans, not some leftover plan hanging around at PJM that was intended to "increase the use of coal-fired resources" when it was created in 2005.

Here's a different, but similar, article from The News Journal that also goes off the rails beginning with the headline, Delmarva power line project pushed back - Recession cuts demand, delays three-state pathway until 2015.  It contains much of the same misinformation from PJM and PEPCO spokesmen.

Here's a slightly better article, with a huge Freudian slip in the first sentence.  Thanks, Star Democrat, for a great new phrase:  "Pepco is asking a state panel reviewing a transmillion line project that would extend through Dorchester County to temporarily delay its review."  Transmillion lines aptly describes these kind of projects, which score huge profits for their investors that are paid for by electric customers.

See also PEPCO's letter asking the Maryland PSC to suspend activity on their application for one year.  In this letter, PEPCO goes into even greater detail about all the uncertainties that have thrown their plans up in the air.  They try mightily to make the PSC believe these uncertainties could only lead to an earlier need for their project.  The truth behind these "uncertainties" is that need for the project at all is the greatest uncertainty.  Here are the factors that have buggered up PEPCO's plans:  No currently projected reliability violations before 2019; public policy initiatives (state Renewable Portfolio Standards); the type and location of future generation; generation retirements and additions; implementation of FERC Order No. 1000's mandated changes to planning and cost allocation; electric demand; the new EPA Clean Air rules; a six-year lead time to order underwater cables needed to cross the Bay; federal & state environmental permits needed; and increasing demand response programs. 

Their logic on demand response programs increasing need for MAPP is completely preposterous!  PEPCO says that the more demand response resources available, the greater the risk that all these resources could decide to drop out at once and fry the grid by turning everything back on, and therefore they should be completely ignored in the planning process for new transmission.  Oh, come on -- that is completely absurd!  Is this a look at how PJM is going to start viewing demand response in their planning process?  The Delmarva Now article includes this gem from PEPCO, "Other factors, such as hotter summer days and colder winter nights, could limit the number of customers participating in load management programs, driving up electricity use and demand." 

PEPCO also says they need at least 6 years lead time to have underwater cables manufactured and therefore PJM has ordered them to proceed with "certain  developmental activities reasonably necessary to allow MAPP to be quickly re-started..."

PJM thinks PEPCO should continue to spend the ratepayers' money on a project that is completely uncertain at this time.  Looks like PEPCO is spending ratepayer money just about as wisely as PATH has been spending it.  PEPCO is also dumping millions on stupid PR campaigns.

Now we've got two of these unneeded zombie projects in PJM's "abeyance" la-la land where financing the projects will continue to increase consumers' electric bills through recovery via FERC formula rates and provide huge profits to their power company developers through FERC Transmission Incentives.  Enough is enough!
Victory today for the opponents of the MAPP project!  A news release says that PJM has determined that the project will not be needed until sometime in the 2019 - 2021 time frame.  Well, isn't that quite scientific?

"The letter states that PJM's action "does not constitute a directive by PJM to cancel or abandon the MAPP project," and also directs PHI to proceed with those development efforts "reasonably necessary to allow the MAPP project to be quickly re-started..."

Sound familiar, PATH opponents?  Yes, it's the same mushy-mouthed crap PJM said when they "suspended" the PATH project.

MAPP has asked for delays from the MD-PSC and the VA-SCC.

What this means is that the MAPP project is also a dead fish, however Pepco wants to continue to hold their FERC incentives and continue to collect a 12.8% return year after year on their investment in the project from all PJM ratepayers. 

"The notification also states that PJM will be using a new stakeholder process to evaluate its transmission planning methods, which could lead to changes in PJM's assessment of MAPP's in-service date. PJM does not expect the new evaluation to be completed until sometime in 2012."

This is the new planning "stakeholder process" that was supposed to re-evaluate the PATH project before the end of this year.  Looks like they're not planning to have it completed until sometime next year now.

Here's a link to PJM's letter holding MAPP in abeyance.  Looks like PJM learned a thing or two from our reaction to the PATH "abeyance."  They have not removed MAPP from the RTEP, but given it a new in-service date of "2019 - 2021."  Since when does an RTEP have such unclear in-service dates?  Oh, that's right, it's just PJM protecting another one of its pet projects...

Another Project Mountaineer failure that will linger on and cost the consumers money and provide absolutely no benefits.  MAPP opponents should join is in insisting that FERC take action on these "suspended" white elephants and derail their gravy train in the pursuit of just and reasonable electric rates.