Due to dropping demand and increasing demand response, the economic congestion that PATH pointed to as one of the needs for their transmission line has completely evaporated. Prices in "eastern PJM" (the east coast load pockets) have levelized with prices in "western PJM" (home of all those coal-fired generating plants in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio).
This means that, in 2014/15, the price of electricity won't be appreciably higher in the eastern parts of the region than in the western parts of the region. When prices are levelized like this, there is no need to transport "cheap" electricity from western PJM to eastern PJM. That transfer was "needed" in order to alleviate the transmission congestion "bottle neck," and that was the problem PATH was supposed to solve. Now that congestion bottle neck no longer exists. If there's no need to transport power across the region, there's simply no need for PATH.
Remember that crazy congestion costs motion filed by the MD-PSC staff attorney in February that caused the Maryland Chamber of Commerce to file a late petition to intervene right before PATH went belly up and floated downstream? That specious argument is now completely nullified.
This information isn't new. The auction mentioned in the article happened three months ago. There is a new angle presented in the article, however, whereby the new EPA rules and the TrAIL transmission project coming online are also credited for the evaporation of "congestion." The TrAIL line helped, but the argument was made during the its approval process that demand response and energy efficiency would be able to solve the "congestion" problem without building a new transmission line. It looks like The Sierra Club and other TrAIL opponents have been proven correct, although saying "I told you so" is a hollow victory in the face of the environmental destruction Allegheny Energy wrought while constructing the line, the burden to landowners that resulted, and the billions of dollars the unneeded TrAIL line is going to cost all PJM ratepayers over the next 70 years, plus.
The EPA rules have had the effect of adding some of the true cost of coal onto electricity prices in western PJM. Seven gigawatts of coal-fired generation was priced out of the market at the auction. The article points out that this is a good thing for all of us who like to breathe clean air. It's a win-win, according to EnergyPulse!
So why is PATH continuing to waste our money appealing the decision of the Frederick County, Maryland, Board of Zoning Appeals against a special exception to construct the Mt. Airy substation? PATH is trying to preserve the three long-term processes they will need to make a comeback, one of which is the court fight over siting of the substation.
PATH is not coming back in the form we knew it on February 28, 2011. Whether they will try to "greenwash" it as a project with different goals depends on how stupid they think the state regulatory commissions and the opposition are, and remains to be seen. We're all still here and we're still on to you, PATH. It's time to abandon your silly, little project and put your efforts toward doing something constructive for society. Quit wasting both your own, and our, time and money. PATH is history.