Whoops! That didn't go the way PATH wanted it to, did it? In fact, it's a rather deja vu situation! The last time this happened, PATH ended up begging to have its application withdrawn rather than proceed. This is the second application PATH has filed in Virginia which they cannot back up. PATH needs to take its ball and go home, as WV intervenor Steve Smith has been urging them to do. This dragging out of process by a corporation who is using funds from electric ratepayers in 13 states to pay their costs of this nonsense also costs the same folks more money trying to fight back. It also holds thousands of landowners in three states in a state of suspended animation as they wait to see how or if this will affect their properties. This is an unconscionable situation that needs to end.
Anyhow, let's get to the ruling. The main reason the hearing examiner wants to continue with the current application/schedule is to maintain control of their jurisdiction and not lose it to FERC. Despite PATH's desperate promises, no one trusts them. The ruling states, "The respondents pointed out that the Commission would have only PATH-VA's word or promise, and that prior promises to the Commission by affiliates of PATH-VA have not been kept." You know what they say.... once a liar, always a liar! The hearing examiner opines that, "there remains the risk that PATH-VA could choose not to abide by its agreement."
Here's the deal with the FERC jurisdiction thing... If PATH can get their applications delayed in all three states at least one year past their filing date and those states issue denials, PATH could run crying to FERC that the denials are not valid because the state did not act within one year. Piedmont Environmental Council did all of us a huge favor when they litigated FERC siting authority a couple of years ago. The 4th Circuit ruled that FERC backstop authority would not be triggered if a state issued a denial of an application. However, if a state failed to act within one year, backstop authority could be asked for. If PATH's delays run the clock out for more than a year, they can ask FERC to step in, even if the state had issued a denial after the one-year period had expired. PATH's promises mean nothing, as we all know very well. Too bad the WV-PSC isn't as smart at the VA-SCC.
Now we wait to see what Maryland will do with PATH's motion to toll, afterall, we've got all the time in the world here in West Virginia...