Instead of an actual meeting, this year it was done via conference call. Although I missed watching PATH's twitching (and I'm sure there was a lot of twitching this morning!), I didn't have to get up at 4:00 a.m., suit up and slog to the train. And we polished off a pitcher of Mimosas during the meeting. Much tastier than PATH's "free breakfast," and it helps make PATH's prevarication a little easier to swallow.
Here's PATH's presentation from the meeting. They over collected another $5M from ratepayers again in 2010. This is getting so old. I think they're into us for something like $13M overall right now. Robin Huyett Thomas from Jefferson Co., WV, questioned PATH along these lines during the call and was still left with a few lingering questions, which I explained to her after the call was over. Here's how it works: Each September, PATH submits a Proposed Transmission Revenue Requirement for the following year. This is their estimate of how much you're going to pay for PATH the following calendar year. The rates go into effect on January 1. Each month, PJM bills your load serving entity (whoever you pay your electric bill to) for its monthly share of PATH's yearly estimated cost. Your LSE pays PJM, who hands the money over to PATH, and your LSE adds your personal share to your electric bill. When the calendar year ends, the estimate is compared to the actual amount spent, the ATRR Annual Update. When PATH makes a bad estimate and collects too much (and conversely if they collect too little, but this never happens) the over/under collection, plus a paltry amount of interest, is rolled into the rates you will be charged for the following year. For example, the amount you were overcharged in 2009 will be returned to you in 2011, however in 2011, you are also paying for PATH's estimated 2011 costs all year, so it's not like you're ever going to see a refund or reduction in your bill.
Jefferson County's Dan Lutz asked a question that PATH didn't answer to his satisfaction, and when PATH couldn't explain themselves, Dan got a little peeved that they tried to dismiss him. Dan, I got so side-tracked by your little argument with Randy that I can't even remember your original question, but if you email it to me, I'll try to give you a real answer. And I'll never tell you to shut up
I confirmed with PATH that both the WV and MD settlement agreements in the FirstEnergy/Allegheny Energy merger cases stipulated that no merger costs would be passed on to ratepayers. I then asked them if any merger costs were reflected in the 2010 ATRR. Milo said there were no merger costs in the ATRR. I advised Milo that he might want to take a look at the discovery responses I have received from PATH because there are merger costs included in the 2010 ATRR that have been recovered from ratepayers. So, happy hunting, fellas! If you think it's bitchy of me not to tell them exactly where these charges appear, consider that it would have been even bitchier of me to keep quiet and not allow them this chance to fix their "mistake." I could have just included them in a future Formal Challenge at FERC, if it was all about making PATH look bad. Honestly, why do I have to do their accounting for them every year? Don't they have a staff who's being paid to do their accounting correctly in the first place?
I also asked PATH if any costs were included in the 2010 ATRR that are the same as costs that were originally included in the 2009 ATRR "in error," and were subsequently removed from the ATRR by PATH in a Dec. 28, 2010 correction they filed at FERC. You'd think that PATH wouldn't fall for this one again, right? Well, you'd be wrong... they stepped right into it again and confirmed that none of the 2009 "errors" were made again in 2010. So, once again I asked that they look at the discovery responses they had sent me because the same "errors" have shown up again in 2010. Once is an "error," twice is "on purpose." Of course, they had to take issue with that statement and plead that PATH makes lots of mistakes and never over recovers on purpose. Good one! If you believe that, I've got this bridge in Brooklyn that's for sale.... Again, happy hunting, fellas!
Esther Brinkmann from Frederick Co., MD, asked PATH if another Challenge is filed in January 2012 regarding the 2010 cost recovery, would FERC combine the two Challenge filings? PATH didn't have an answer for that. Esther... very funny! :-) Time for another Mimosa!
PATH then made another little presentation about the Formula Rate Implementation Protocols, PJM OATT Attachment H-19B, that governs their filings, these "meetings," and the discovery and challenge procedures. Becky Bruner, PATH's outside counsel, said that PATH had the responsibility to work with interested parties to resolve conflicts in the time period between Preliminary and Formal Challenge filing dates. Before the call was over, I asked Becky why PATH didn't fulfill its responsibility to work with Ali Haverty and myself to resolve the issues identified in our Preliminary Challenge before we filed the Formal Challenge. Randy took over at this point (didn't he ever tell Becky that we had filed a Preliminary?) and said they were not required to work with us because PATH didn't agree with any of our issues in the Preliminary. I reminded Randy that he filed a correction to PATH's 2009 ATRR on December 28 that included "mistakes" we had identified either through discovery or Preliminary, and PATH made no attempt to notify us that some corrections had been made until the resolution period was over. All that aside, isn't the whole point of the resolution period to resolve issues where PATH and Challengers don't agree? Maybe not when you're Randy and you think you're right, even when you're wrong, and the word compromise isn't in your vocabulary.
Patience Wait from Jefferson County began to ask PATH about "costs necessary to maintain the project in its current state" but quickly got off on a discussion about property purchase options. PATH verified that they are releasing options when they become due for another payment at the renewal date. Randy says that they are just going to repurchase the same options again later. Patience asked if he thought he would be able to secure the options again at the same price. I don't think Randy answered this, but here's the scoop. PATH has already made at least an initial payment to secure these options. When the option is released, all payments already made to property owners become wasted money. PATH gets NOTHING for the money they spent and the property owner gets to keep their property. If the options have to be repurchased, PATH will have to re-negotiate the price, make another initial payment, any payments due at renewal, and the final purchase payment to exercise the option. PATH is tossing OUR money away by releasing the options now and planning to spend more of our money repurchasing them later. Look up the word "imprudence" in the dictionary. Randy got all defensive and tried to hide behind the discovery process, so Patience plans to pursue the issue through that process. If you have questions for PATH that you didn't get a chance to ask this morning, contact me and I'll hook you up on the whole discovery thing. The more ratepayers getting involved in discovery, the better!
Ali Haverty from Calhoun Co., WV, questioned PATH about which FERC dockets they had filed the 2010 ATRR in. Becky and Randy insisted that it was filed on both ER08-386 and ER09-1256. Ali tried to convince them that it had, indeed, not been filed in 1256. Becky and Randy informed Ali that FERC doesn't do a docket notify for something like an ATRR filing because it is an "informational filing" and insisted the filing in 1256 had already been made. Low and behold, less than a hour after the conference call concluded, I got a docket notify email from FERC informing me that PATH had just now filed the ATRR in 1256. Are you keeping track of the number of lies? I hope so, because I've lost count.
This whole issue of which docket PATH filed the ATRR in is only relevant because Ali is currently engaged in battle with PATH at FERC over confidentiality issues in discovery. To see the Motions and Objections, go here and search for Docket ER08-386 and separately ER09-1256, because PATH has pulled a docket switcheroo. PATH is attempting to alter H-19B through use of a Protective Order and by attaching senseless statements to their discovery responses. H-19B can only be changed through a proper Section 205 filing with FERC on Docket ER08-386. If PATH is successful here, the ratepayers will be shut out of knowing how their money is being spent by PATH because interested parties like Ali and myself will be required to keep all discovery and related challenges confidential and the rest of you ratepayers won't be able to view any of it unless you do your own discovery and challenge and sign a Protective Agreement.
So, PATH continues to rip us off and now wants to hide the evidence.