PJM says they based their decision on three factors:
1. The fact that the incumbents already owned land (their substations) on which to site the projects.
2. The fact that the incumbents wouldn't need a CPCN because they would merely be "upgrading" existing transmission.
Wow! That's it? The crappy lawyering doesn't stop with the IOUs after all, but apparently also extends to RTOs as well. 1. & 2. are situations in which the incumbent will always prevail, effectively shutting the door on any independent projects and FERC's intent to encourage independent transmission ownership. What a joke!
But who said the projects won't need a CPCN or run into a siting buzzsaw in West Virginia if the incumbents construct them? That's a lot of fallacious logic on PJM's part. As I recall, somewhere in one of Primary Power's documents they said something about already having secured needed land, but I'm not going on a fishing expedition to find it.
And as far a 3. goes... While Primary Power had a real cost estimate based on facts and figures, FirstEnergy and Dominion had back of the envelope guesses at cost. PJM never did any independent cost evaluation to compare the alternatives. Just like the PATH Project, the incumbent gets a free pass to underbid any competitors with estimates they pull out of thin air. One of my favorite parts of PATH's fictitious cost estimate was demonstrated when the $1.8B project was reconfigured from twin 500kV lines from Bedington to Kemptown to a single 765kV line from a new Welton Springs substation to Kemptown... and the $1.8B price tag remained exactly the same. This proved that PATH's cost estimates were completely invented.
A plethora of parties have intervened in the Primary Power complaint at FERC. Predictably, a bunch of PJM's favored incumbents protested the complaint and sided with PJM. However, there was an equal number of independent transmission developers who intervened to support Primary Power's complaint. If you want to browse through the filings, go here and enter Docket No. EL12-69. Lots of good reading, but I'm not going to upload a whole bunch of them here.
The only party who can even claim some semblance of independence here is the Pennsylvania PUC, and guess who they sided with? You'll have to read it to find out...
But what do I know about any of this... let's ask the PJM Magic 8 Ball if FERC is going to grab PJM by the scruff of its incumbent-lovin' neck and swat them with a rolled up newspaper... take it away 8 Ball... "Outlook Good!"