Now, PATH is releasing those options and any and all claims to the properties and rights-of-way necessary to construct the project. If PATH is re-incarnated, they will have to begin all over again acquiring necessary properties along their proposed route. You know what they say... fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me!
The lil' CoalFella got a nasty surprise yesterday when he received a phone call from a reporter inquiring about the release of options. Investigative journalism is not dead after all! In this article in The Journal, lil' CoalFella sputters and spins like a small plane that's run out of gas and is preparing for an emergency landing.
Refusing to admit the truth (for once!), and continuing to pretend that the project is still going to happen continues to burden landowners with the requirement to disclose the potential of the PATH project if they try to sell their properties. This makes their properties worth a lot less and many have taken a huge financial hit when circumstances have required them to sell their property over the past three years. Properties in or near PATH's proposed right-of-way are virtually unsalable.
The way the option contracts are structured, PATH would have made a series of three payments to landowners who signed them. Initial payment (the amount of which is individually negotiated) is paid to the owner at signing. Another payment is due at the mid-point of the contract period (again, negotiable). The final payment, which when combined with the previous two payments will equal the negotiated "fair market value" of the property, is due when the option is exercised and PATH takes legal title to the property. PATH has made the initial payment for options on record, and in some instances has made the mid-point payment to continue the option. That's capital they have invested in the project and upon which ratepayers will be paying 14.3% return yearly for many, many years. Now, for some of the options, PATH is failing to make the mid-point payment when it comes due and choosing to release the option instead. If PATH is re-incarnated and given the green light by PJM later this year, they will have to re-negotiate and coerce property owners to sign a new option, and start back at square one with another initial payment due at signing. In the long run, if PATH actually intends to construct the project in the future, it would have been cheaper to make the mid-point payment and continue to hold the option. PATH did not do this. Either they're intending to unnecessarily spend a lot more capital reacquiring options, or they're just done and will not pursue the project (or the options) in the future. Which one do you think makes sense?
"Maintaining the project in its current state" would include continuing to hold the land necessary to construct it. To release claim to the land makes it harder to construct the project in the future. The PATH project is regressing, instead of maintaining itself or progressing. Ooops! Looks like PATH is not following PJM's directive after all.
In his uncertain ramblings, the CoalFella tells us that it's all about maintaining some pretense that the project is still alive at FERC. Yes, PATH, we know you're in a serious world of hurt at FERC right now and are trying to pull the wool over FERC's eyes. It's not working.
To quote our pal Randy Palmer, "When are you people just going to give up?" The writing is on the wall and release of options isn't the only clue I've got that PATH is heading for abandonment. Let's not continue to play this game. Do something honest for once. Abandon the project!