PJM held a press briefing this afternoon to explain their decision to recommend that their Board of Managers cancel the PATH and MAPP projects at their upcoming August 24 meeting.  PJM blamed the cancellation on "the economy."  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Here are the REAL reasons why the projects were canceled:

PATH and MAPP (and Susquehanna-Roseland and TrAIL) were first and foremost parts of PJM's Project Mountaineer initiative.  Project Mountaineer was the 2005 brainchild of PJM's then President, Karl Pfirrmann.  Project Mountaineer was a plan to increase the transfer of coal-fired generation from Western PJM (the Ohio Valley) to Eastern PJM (the East Coast load centers) by 5,000 MW.  The plan was born out of an idea to "promote regional transmission planning and expansion to facilitate fuel diversity including expanded uses of coal-fired resources."  FERC held a technical conference on this subject in Charleston, WV on May 13, 2005, that was well attended by coal companies and electric utilities, as well as their political and regulatory cheerleaders, and Pfirrmann unveiled Project Mountaineer at this conference.

I'm not sure how "fuel diversity" was going to be "facilitated" by adding more "coal-fired resources" back in 2005, since coal has historically held the lion's share of the "resources" that produce electricity in this country.  Don't try to make sense out of the transcript.  It only holds entertainment value anymore.  Do a "find" in the document for the words "laughter" and "penguin" and you'll see what I mean.  It was a real riot, apparently.

Project Mountaineer was the opportunity to burn more coal and build very profitable transmission projects to transport it to new markets, and PJM's Regional Transmission Expansion Plan (RTEP) was proposed as the vehicle that would allow it to happen.

The coal-fired generators created projects designed to take advantage of the opportunityAllegheny Energy proposed the TrAIL Project.  AEP proposed its "I-765 Project."  PJM broke TrAIL down and combined part of this opportunity with part of AEP's I-765 Project to create the combined opportunity known as the PATH Project. 

That's right, the power companies created the opportunities before PJM had refined the exact vehicle.  PJM had yet to create a "need" for these opportunities that would act as the vehicle.  PJM went looking for, and "found," voltage violations, congestion, and reliability problems that would cause "brownouts and blackouts" if these opportunities were not built.  Instead of allowing a problem to present itself before designing a solution, PJM identified the solution first and then created a problem for it to fix.

As far back as 2007, opponents to new coal-by-wire high voltage transmission lines had produced testimony by experts that questioned PJM's determination of "need," and proposed that increased energy efficiency, demand management and the building of new generation closer to East Coast loads would solve the problem quicker, cheaper and more reliably than building billions of dollars worth of new long-distance transmission lines.

Today, PJM claimed that the reasons for PATH and MAPP's demise were:  "...reduced growth rate in customer load over the past years [energy efficiency]. We've seen a general increase in particular in eastern PJM in the amount of demand response that is available to us and most recently, earlier this year, we've seen a number of new generation additions in eastern PJM clearing through our capacity market."

These are the very same solutions that experts predicted would solve the problem without the building of new transmission lines FIVE YEARS AGO!

PJM claimed that they have been continuously re-evaluating these projects over the past five years, however their re-evaluations always continued to find a need for PATH.  It was only after the Virginia State Corporation Commission got tired of PATH's obfuscations and delays and ordered new supplemental analyses of the PATH project that it suddenly became clear that there were fatal flaws in PJM's "need" determination for PATH.  The analyses ordered by the VA-SCC were what put PATH into "suspension," where it has languished for the past year and a half.

Why did it take PJM five years and more than $225M (cost of PATH Project only) to find the solutions that had been freely handed to them in 2007?

The real reason PATH and MAPP were canceled is because they were never needed in the first place.  This unconscionable waste of time and money was caused by corporate greed and a massive planning failure by the PJM transmission cartel that these same greedy corporations control.


08/10/2012 2:25pm

PJM's next big bad idea initiative is to build transmission to transport wind from the midwest to the east coast. This time they're going to have an even bigger rate payer and landowner push back. PJM ain't seen nothing yet!


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