So, what is PATH trying to pull now? They are telling FERC that they are "suspending" their project indefinitely while PJM "conducts more analysis of the PATH project" and "evaluates its planning methods." In other words, PJM is going to alter their processes to create a need for PATH, which has disappeared under their current planning process, and then they'll be back. Maybe.
Meanwhile, PATH will be undertaking "activities necessary to maintain the project in its current state" during the suspension and guess who gets to pay for these "activities" during the suspension? You do, little ratepayer!
Since these "activities" are undefined, lets see what PATH considers "necessary" to maintain the project.
Their PATH Education Awareness Team (PEAT)? Nope, I guess that's not "necessary".
Their ratepayer-funded front group, West Virginians for Reliable Power or Energy or whatever we're calling ourselves this week? Yes, PATH considers this "necessary".
Looks like they intend to continue to waste your money on imprudent expenditures like front groups for an indefinite period of time.
How are they going to do that, you ask? Through their Formula Rate, "which will continue to apply during the suspension," just like nothing has happened. So, PATH intends to continue to charge ratepayers for all project expenses and that huge 14.3% return every year while their failed project sits on a shelf at PJM indefinitely.
How long is this suspension supposed to last? That's really not clear, but "FirstEnergy spokesman Doug Colafella said it looks like completion of the project has been delayed until at least 2020, based on PJM's latest forecasts." So, PATH wants to continue to toss your money down the PATH rathole for at least another 9 years before they abandon this loser project? How much is our outlook on energy going to change in the next nine years? We certainly won't need the PATH project! It's time to give up on PATH now!
When PATH was granted their incentives at FERC way back in 2008, one of the incentives they were granted was,"recovery of 100 percent of prudently-incurred costs associated with abandonment of the Project, provided that the abandonment is a result of factors beyond the control of PATH, which must be demonstrated in a subsequent section 205 filing for recovery of abandoned plant." FERC granted this incentive for a reason that has now become reality -- the PATH project has failed. However, PJM and PATH were very careful with their word choice in the press release last Monday to avoid that "A" word. PATH's "thumb in FERC's eye" continues, "Importantly, the PJM Board has not directed the sponsoring transmission owners to cancel or abandon the PATH project..."
One of the reasons PATH got such a big basket of incentives from FERC was that the route and end users were in what the Dept. of Energy had designated to be the Mid-Atlantic National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor (NIETC). On February 1, 2011 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated (cancelled) that designation. An open question is - What should the status of the incentives PATH received be now, in the face of this designation cancellation? Does PATH have the right to continue using incentives which were granted due to a now illegal designation?
PATH's "suspension" is an option they are creating. Either they have a project and they proceed, or they don't have a project and they abandon it. Instead, they are making up a third option and hoping FERC will go along with it.
FERC has an important decision to make. Would you like to let FERC know what you, the ones financing this project, think they should do?
We're going to make it easy for you to do!
1. Download this template. Fill in your name, address, the date, your comments, and your name at the bottom. If you would like it filed electronically, you don't need to sign it, but can use "/s/ Your Name" in the signature block.
2. You can drop it in the U.S. Mail, or we will file it electronically for you.
3. If you would like us to file it electronically, there are two more steps to complete.
First, you must register your email address with FERC. It's simple and quick -- go here
Second, send your letter as an attachment (either pdf or word file) here (click on the word "here" and it will launch your email program) and it will be filed electronically with FERC for you.
1. PATH wants to continue to spend an undefined and unlimited amount of funds recovered from ratepayers and collect their 14.3% return for an indefinite period of time.
2. PJM has said their project is not needed. FirstEnergy says their project may be needed in 2020 or later.
3. PATH should be properly abandoned at FERC now. To "suspend" the project and continue to charge ratepayers to maintain it in its current state is unjust and unreasonable.
4. The conditions under which PATH received their incentives from FERC have changed significantly.
5. Allowing PATH to proceed this way sets a dangerous precedent whereby utilities will apply for projects they never intend to complete and hold in "suspension" indefinitely in order to collect a generous return from ratepayers.
6. Tell FERC about your own personal experiences with the PATH project -- whether it's your dealings with land agents, lies you were told, outrageous behavior on the part of PATH, their arrogance when dealing with local government and citizens, the fact that their "Kemptown" substation has been rejected by Frederick County, or whatever you would like to relate from your own experience. Make your letter personal and unique!
To see a couple of example letters, click here and here. Please do not copy these letters word for word!
This may be your only opportunity to have a say in PATH's final status. Please add your voice!
To see comments already docketed at FERC regarding PATH's "suspension", click here.