He does it with style, and just enough underhanded sarcasm to make it a great read.
He begins the discussion by comparing PATH to a scene in a movie:
"Like the character played by Jimmy Stewart in the 1971 movie, Fools’ Parade, who attempts to escape a pursuing sheriff by hopping a boxcar only end up back where he started, we find that we have traveled in loop back to the beginning. A similar PATH-VA motion to withdraw
led to the Order Granting Withdrawal, which ended PATH-VA’s Previous Application. A little over thirteen months later, PATH-VA is asking for permission to withdraw its Application in this proceeding."
Don't miss the little heart-shaped bullets in the text of the discussion. It was a little hard to concentrate because I was laughing so hard!
No matter how much he may have wanted to do more, it wouldn't have made much difference in the long run:
"I sympathize with those Respondents and persons that will be frustrated with the lack of finality, or the possibility of a future application for the PATH Project, or some other similar transmission project. However, I find that to indicate that a dismissal or denial of PATH-VA’s
Application is “with prejudice” would be misleading and unlikely to serve as a bar to a future application for the PATH Project based on new facts and circumstances."
And here's why he recommended withdrawal, with conditions placed on a possible third attempt at an application. Makes sense to me:
"Counsel for Frederick County contended that in its pleadings, PATH-VA has admitted there is no need for the project.21 Frederick County maintained that the Commission should take this admission and use it as a basis to deny the Application.22 PATH-VA asserted that the Commission could not deny an application on a record that does not exist.23 While PATH-VA was unable to identify a practical distinction between dismissal and withdrawal, PATH-VA argued that the Application should be in the control of the Applicant to withdraw if it no longer supports the Application... Moreover, I find that whether the Application is withdrawn or dismissed would have no impact on the filing of a new application based on new facts and circumstances. I agree with Frederick County and find that the Commission could deny the Application based on admissions made in the Applicant’s pleadings."
And PATH's final playing of their FERC Joker card wraps up the logic:
"In this proceeding, counsel for PATH-VA affirmed that “a voluntary withdrawal will give no grounds for PATH to seek a FERC approval of the line.”27 It is recognized that the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Wilderness Coalition28 to invalidate the United States Department of Energy’s
designation of national interest electric transmission corridors (“NIETCs”), significantly reduced the possibility of FERC jurisdiction. Nonetheless, I do not believe the risk of FERC jurisdiction has been eliminated completely. Thus, with only the slightest risk of FERC jurisdiction, and no practical difference in results and impact on a future application, I find PATH-VA’s Motion to
Withdraw should be granted."
Regarding PATH's refusal to provide the scenarios that were due March 15, Skirpan recommends that the following be required (but go read it youself, the little hearts are a scream!):
"More specifically, I find there was general agreement for PATH-VA:
to submit the solution of the “Base Case” and “Base Case + Warren” as text files;
to provide in PSS/e electronic format, the power flow tests used to identify NERC thermal violations for the “Base Case” and “Base Case + Warren” scenarios;
to report the results of the studies summarized on the TEAC Slide for the “Base Case” and “Base Case + Warren” in a format and level of detail equivalent to
Exhibit Nos. 1-3, of Mr. Paul McGlynn’s prefiled direct testimony in this proceeding; and
to provide tables of generation loaded into the “Base Case” and “Base Case+Warren” and what generation was reduced in the at-risk scenario."
Skirpan also requires a new application be based on a completed 2012 RTEP, which won't be complete until early 2013, which gives Virginia a two year PATH-free vacation. It doesn't necessarily give the rest of us the same benefit, if PATH chooses to avoid Virginia on its next attempt.
And, finally, here's the recommendation (bet you thought I'd never get there, but this thing has to be savored for full enjoyment):
"In conclusion, based on the pleadings and argument, I find that:
(1) PATH-VA’s Motion to Withdraw should be granted;
(2) PATH-VA should be directed to preserve the analyses underlying the TEAC Slide;
(3) PATH-VA should be directed to file the following information in this docket: (i) the solution of the “Base Case” and “Base Case + Warren” as text files; (ii) the power flow tests used to identify NERC thermal violations for the “Base Case” and “Base Case + Warren” scenarios in PSS/e electronic format; (iv) the results of the studies summarized on the TEAC Slide for the “Base
Case” and “Base Case + Warren” in a format and level of detail equivalent to Exhibit Nos. 1-3, of Mr. Paul McGlynn’s prefiled direct testimony in this proceeding; and (iv) tables of generation loaded into the “Base Case” and “Base Case +Warren” and what generation was reduced in the atrisk scenario.
(4) Any future application for the PATH Project should include information regarding PJM’s 2012 or later RTEP;
(5) Any future application for the PATH Project should include an analysis of changes in circumstances (as measured from the “Base Case” of the TEAC Slide), including changes in generation, demand response, and energy efficiency resources;
(6) Any future application for the PATH Project should provide information on the PATH Project’s original routes (including routes that do not impact Virginia), consistent with other proposed and alternative routes; and
(7) The Protective Ruling in this proceeding should be amended as provided herein."
One more speed bump in AEP & FE's rocky path to a ratepayer-funded pot of gold.
UPDATE: Here's the first (and only) decent news article to come out of the Virginia recommendation.
Here's what PATH's failure is has already cost you, and will continue to cost you for years (approved by FERC in 2008, not PJM, however):
"The two companies have already spent $120 million on site work, engineering studies and other expenses moving the project forward. Since the project was approved by PJM Interconnection, which regulates the power supply in Maryland and 12 other states and the District of Columbia, the costs are recoverable from all customers in the grid operator’s territory."
And you're supposed to sit patiently holding your wallet open for how long?
"The PJM board did not say how long it would suspend the efforts, but did say the project was not being abandoned. Instead, PJM said it would continue its analysis but it is off the list of projects for this year."
“If they [PJM] come back and say we need PATH, then we can get the project back up and running,” Colafella said.
Ahhh... there's our li'l Coal Fella, spinning like a top! And what if PJM comes back and says we DON'T need PATH? What then, Coal Fella? How are the ratepayers going to get their wallets back up and running? Honestly, his quotes are getting dumber and dumber...
Proof positive: “The investment we’ve already made won’t be lost though, because the project is not lost — just suspended,” Colafella said.
And when the project IS lost, does that mean our investment is lost, or just "suspended?"
"As of now, we have halted nearly all activities related to PATH,” Doug Colafella, FirstEnergy manager of external communications.
Yup, I see that you have suspended nearly all activities, except for looking stupid in the press. You're still doing a bang up job with that activity.