|GIANT LINE WOULD CROSS CALHOUN AND REGIONAL COUNTIES|
By Bruce Nilles, Director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign
PATH is a joint venture of American Electric Power Co. Inc. and Allegheny Energy Inc., both of which rely heavily on coal.
Allegheny Energy officials have said that 95 percent of the company’s electricity is generated by coal — not what we’d called a “green power” company.
These companies will make extraordinary profits from the PATH line.
First, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has guaranteed a high rate of return on the construction of the multi-billion dollar line, which will be paid for by ratepayers.
Second, the utilities will earn much higher profits for their coal-based electricity once PATH enables access to higher-priced markets in other East Coast states.
This combination of high returns for zero-risk investments makes it abundantly clear why coal utilities want PATH and other transmission lines, and why they encourage the misconception that these lines are needed to move clean energy power.
While some will say that local residents are opposing PATH out of “NIMBYism,” there is much more at stake for them than their backyards.
The opposition is about coal’s air and water pollution and the devastating practice of mountaintop removal coal mining. It is about our obligation to curb global warming pollution.
This is why national groups such as the Sierra Club are joining forces with local groups to oppose the line. Sierra Club supports responsible transmission planning for clean energy, but the PATH line does not fall into that category.
PATH is also not needed to meet the Washington region’s growing electricity demand.
Recent reports show that demand in the region has actually been declining.
Any fear-mongering about power blackouts is based on bad data — official studies traced the 2003 blackout to utility operating and maintenance errors, not a need for new transmission lines.