PATH had a couple of PJM guys attend the hearing via phone to back up the red herring they presented. PATH's Virginia Counsel, Richard Gary from Hunton & Williams, began by asking to have the VA-SCC's January order to produce analyses of alternatives to PATH suspended in light of their motion to withdraw. Randy Palmer's trained seal then threw a stinking fish into the middle of the room by admitting that updated studies have shown need for PATH slipping "several years in to the future" and finishing with page 16 from the March 10 TEAC presentation being put up on a screen in the courtroom. According to this table, the first violation doesn't show up until 2021 on the Mt. Storm-Doubs line, which was rated in its current state, instead of its increased thermal capacity upon rebuild. With the MSD rebuild completed, violations necessitating PATH slip "well into the 2020s" and a combination of Mt. Storm - Doubs and the Warren generation "makes them disappear," therefore further studies are "unnecessary". PATH would like to submit this base case instead and there is no reason for PJM to perform any more studies, therefore withdrawal is required. Oh, and that whole NIETC thing? It's "in question," nevermind that order to vacate. Besides, the WV-PSC, that bastion of reasoned utility adjudication, has dismissed the case! In Maryland, PATH only need give notice of their intent to withdraw and it happens just like magic!
And that, folks, is your red herring that's supposed to keep you busy for the next decade while the power companies and PJM work undisturbed and undetected to change the equation upon which they base their funny math and come back in a year or two with a newly-concocted "need" for PATH.
Hearing Examiner Skirpan asked them if they didn't have to do the Mt. Storm-Doubs rebuild analysis anyhow for that pending case before the SCC. The trained seal barked right on cue that that wasn't necessary because they can already tell what's beyond the planning horizon from what was provided. Uh-huh.
The attorneys from The Sierra Club asked for the base case and the analyses that created them in electronic form. PATH said that was unnecessary and "a lot of paper" which just shows need for PATH further out, mumble, mumble. Exactly!!
Abby Dillen, representing Sierra Club also talked about the need to see what's driving this being "absolutely crucial" and keyed to the length of PATH's "suspension," as they are probably contemplating another attempt in the future.
Rob Marmet of Piedmont Environmental Council pointed out that PATH had failed to meet a directive of the Commission when they did not produce ordered analyses by March 15. He suggested that there be conditions placed on a possible re-filing by PATH, such as a one or two year moratorium. PATH has been interrupting peoples' lives and placing them in jeopardy for nearly three years! PJM's "bright line" test has not been met and in response PJM only "suspended" the project instead instead of what they should have done -- canceling it. None of this was unforeseeable and is the same as PATH's last withdrawal.
Skirpan pondered whether a condition to be placed on re-file could be that it must include a completed 2012 RTEP or later, since PJM had withdrawn PATH from the 2011 RTEP. This made Dr. Evil Palmer and his "Mini-me" jump in their seats and whisper furiously before Mini-me stood up and complained that it wouldn't "comport with PATH's legal obligations". You know that story... PJM jerks their strings and "orders" them to build transmission and they have no idea in the world whether it could be needed in 6 months or 6 years. The forecast could take a u-turn at any moment!
Jon Flannery, representing River's Edge, was up next. In his own inimitable style, he gave PATH a well-deserved dressing down. Summed up: Ratepayers and respondents are paying a high price while PJM kisses the butts of transmission owners; no details of this "suspension" have been provided; we can't trust PATH whose word has been worthless since day one; PATH fails every time they submit an application but expects infinite "do-overs" in order to grind us down until they succeed; fool me once, shame on me, but this is quickly becoming fool me 3, 4, 5 times; PJM is not impartial; PATH is submitting frivolous applications and it's about time the SCC shows them some teeth and sends a signal to the industry to quit doing this over and over -- it's a shame and a disgrace!
He was followed by the three Ghiorizi respondents, Al, Irene and Theresa. Al questioned why it wasn't being abandoned and what the "suspension" means and how long it will last. He pointed out that the project doesn't have a terminus because "Kemptown" has been denied and asked that the application be dismissed with prejudice because PATH now admits that violations are outside the 15 year planning horizon. Irene spoke some hard truth regarding the documented record of PATH's actions, swindling ratepayers with their Formula Rate, buying land at inflated prices in order to earn interest on a larger amount, and the collusion of PJM and PATH to create every transmission company's dream -- to pad their bottom line at ratepayer expense. My notes indicate that PATH counsel was starting to look rather uncomfortable at this point, and Theresa flamed that right up to "angry" status when she spoke about how the PATH project causes new problems.
Several respondents weighed in over the phone, and by the time they got to Carolyn Davis's assertion that PATH lies, Mini-me looked like he was ready to blow! When Wil Burns of Sierra Club came on the line to request the thermal & voltage results included in the base case analysis, Dr. Evil and Mini-me made like they were going to object to Burns getting an opportunity to speak. Scared much, fellas?
The SCC staff agreed that PATH should file these more complete results.
And then it was show time for Wahhhhhndy Palmer and his trained seal to rebut. Unfortunately I missed the first part because I had stepped out for a moment, but by the time I got back, they had worked themselves up into a righteous umbrage that was pretty funny to watch! Wahhhhhhhh, PATH, wahhhhhhhhhhhh! PATH hasn't lied about anything and everyone is picking on them! There is no need to solve anything any further because the base case has pushed PATH into the next decade. To do more analysis would be "over the top". The substation is being appealed, so the termnius is merely "not determined". PATH is a "significant line", therefore PJM rightly put it in abeyance because they can't cancel a project based on 4 weeks of tests! The only thing truly "over the top" was that nauseating performance...
After their recital, Hearing Examiner Skirpan asked PATH what the difference would be between dismissal and denial. Mini-me dried his tears and told Skirpan that there was no record and therefore no basis for denial (despite PATH's presentation of evidence that PATH has disappeared from the 15 year planning horizon?) :-)
One last thought... if we hadn't gone to Richmond and sat a row in front of him yesterday, I ponder what AEP Project Manager Archie Creepyfreak would have looked at for the nearly two hours the hearing lasted, since he spent the whole time trying to bore holes in the back of our heads with his obsessive staring. Since Patience gets a bit frustrated when she can't get up at one of these things and speak her mind, she took her frustration out by having some sort of bizarre stage whisper/sign language argument with Archie Creepyfreak during the hearing. Since it escalated rather quickly to being a disturbance, I encouraged Patience to ignore him. Yeah, imagine me being the reasonable one (must have been that Jameson's at lunch), but we trade roles once in a while just to keep things interesting. Next time, Archie Creepyfreak needs to bring some comic books, matchbox cars and crayons along to keep himself busy without bothering other people during hearings.