The Staff's petition was filed in accordance with a WV legislative Resolution that urged that the West Virginia Public Service Commission act to review the condition of the Pruntytown to Mt. Storm 500kV transmission line owned by Monongahela Power, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy, and order the rebuilding and reconductoring of that transmission line as soon as is practical. It was also expanded to include all AEP and FirstEnergy facilities in the state in order to seize the opportunity that currently exists to take some lines out of service for rebuilding and modernizing. This opportunity currently exists due to decreased demand and the recent energizing of the TrAIL line, providing enough slack in the system to get the necessary work accomplished. This opportunity isn't going to last forever.
Rebuilding of existing lines that are over 40 years old will not only provide a safer environment for the West Virginians who live in the vicinity of this decrepit infrastructure, it will also increase the capacity and improve the efficiency of these transmission lines and save energy that is currently wasted due to line loss on these antique facilities. Improving transmission lines in West Virginia will also serve as a proactive step toward preventing future proposal of new transmission lines, such as PATH, in the state.
Both of the power companies agreed to evaluate their facilities and provide reports to the PSC, however they wanted more time -- 120 days instead of 30.
The WV PSC denied the petition and in its place reaffirmed their 2008 decision in the TrAIL case directing TrAILCo and its corporate affiliates to submit a plan for reconductoring or otherwise upgrading their respective transmission facilities within one year of the in-service date of TrAIL. TrAIL was energized on May 19, 2011, which would make FirstEnergy's report due on May 19, 2012. Note that the TrAILCo order only applied to TrAILCo corporate affiliates (the FirstEnergy companies) and lets AEP completely off the hook for any responsibility to evaluate the condition of their own aging transmission facilities.
The WV PSC is utterly abandoning their statutory responsibility to ensure that utilities under their jurisdiction provide safe and reliable service to the citizens of West Virginia. If our current Commissioners don't want to do their jobs, it is incumbent upon our Governor to appoint ones who will serve the citizens of this state.
The term of Commissioner Jon McKinney expired on June 30, 2011. Obviously, he doesn't want to do the job anymore, so the only responsible thing to do is for Governor Tomblin to promptly name his replacement and relieve him of his duties. West Virginia utility attorney Robert Rodecker was suggested to Governor Tomblin by The Coalition for Reliable Power and endorsed by members of the legislature back in June, before the expiration of McKinney's term. Roedecker's nomination was also enthusiastically endorsed by numerous citizens who contacted the Governor's office expressing their support. Despite this, Tomblin has failed to act, and the PSC is now shirking their statutory responsibilities.
It's time for YOU to act! Please call or email (or, for good measure, do BOTH) Governor Tomblin and let him know that you support the appointment of Robert Rodecker to fill the expired term of Commissioner McKinney effective immediately. The Governor's office may be reached at 1-888-438-2731 or by submitting an email at this link. DO IT NOW!
The WV PSC and Governor Tomblin are clearly ignoring the will of the citizens that has been expressed through their elected representatives and changes need to be made. Change begins with YOU!