(10/29/2009)
There's big news with the $1.8 billion high powered, big tower PATH electric power project that is planned across several WV counties from Putnam County to Maryland.

The WV Public Service Commission staff asked the commission yesterday to throw out (at least for now) the application for the power line.

PSC staff lawyers cited a Maryland ruling that rejected the portion of the PATH line proposed for that state.

Apparently, the Maryland ruling leaves the West Virginia PSC without a complete application to study and rule on.

"This commission should not be required to review an incomplete project," says a 10-page filing by PSC staff attorney John Auville.

American Electric Power and Allegheny Power are seeking PSC approval for the West Virginia portions of a new 765-kilovolt line that would start near the John Amos power plant in Putnam County and run more than 275 miles to a new substation in Frederick County, Md.

The line crosses Calhoun, Roane, Braxton and other regional counties.

Calhoun resident Bill Howley, who is a leader opposing the project, says it needs approval from regulators in Virginia and Maryland.

The Maryland Public Service Commission threw out the project, ruling that its application was improperly filed because a PATH company formed for the project was not an "electric company" under Maryland law.

Under that ruling, PATH was given 30 days to notify the Maryland PSC.

In early October, PATH filed a letter in Maryland indicating that it was continuing to consider its filing options, but was not able to confirm whether or when it would submit a new application.

Reporter Ken Ward of the Charleston Gazette, says PATH's October filing in Maryland prompted the Virginia PSC's staff to seek to halt consideration of the project in that state.

Virginia PSC staff said, "There now exists such a level of uncertainty as to the termination point of the PATH project that the staff cannot discharge its duty to analyze the application and to advise the commission on whether the project should be approved and, if approved, where it should be routed."

West Virginia PSC staff said that the current West Virginia PATH application calls for the line end at Kemptown, Md.

"No application is currently pending for the proposed connection to the Kemptown substation terminus of the PATH transmission line and it is currently unclear when, or if, [the power companies] will re-file a certificate application before the Maryland PSC to obtain the necessary regulatory approval in Maryland."

The West Virginia PSC staff also argued that the PATH delays re-filing an application in Maryland, data on electricity loads and other issues in the current West Virginia filing "grows stale and less reflective of a fluctuating economy," according to reporter Ward.

"Staff is seeking to present the commission with the most current and accurate information concerning the need for PATH," the West Virginia PSC staff said.

Howley says WV has more that 250 official intervenors protesting the project.

Currently, formal evidentiary hearings on PATH are scheduled to start in February, with a final PSC decision scheduled for late June.

AEP spokeswoman Jeri Matheney said the power companies remain committed to the PATH project.

Read more at   calhounpowerline


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