Coal Tattoo

W.Va. PSC response to superstorms: ‘Nothing new’

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West Virginia’s Public Service Commission has issued a ruling in its big investigation of power outages during last year’s “derecho” storm, and the outcome is fairly predictable. As reported in today’s Gazette:

The state Public Service Commission on Wednesday ordered all West Virginia electric companies to propose how to help keep trees and other vegetation from affecting rights-of-way, in an effort meant to lessen the impact of future severe storms on customers.

Within six months, each company has been asked to submit a petition that proposes its own comprehensive rights-of-way tree-trimming program, which must cover all distribution and transmission lines. Each company also is expected to tell the PSC how long it would take to accomplish what they proposed in their tree-trimming program.

Over on his always informative blog, The Power Line, Bill Howley’s reaction was that this is really “nothing new.” Bill summarized the PSC order:

— It’s the trees.

— Cut the trees.

— Your rates are going up.

— We will ignore any investment to really make WV’s electrical system more reliable.

You can read the ruling yourself here. One of the more interesting things here is to look at the way the PSC described public comments during this investigation. The commission said:

Much of the public comment filed in this investigation following the summer derecho and Hurricane Sandy has focused on the adequacy of right-of-way maintenance along electric and telephone utility distribution lines. Many of public comments at the hearing or other filed written comments contended that the utilities should perform rightof- way tree trimming and brush control more frequently and thoroughly to lessen the extent and duration of storm-related outages.

Much of the public comment? Many of the public comments? Perhaps … but certainly not all. Take the hearing that commissioners held here in Charleston, for example. There’s a transcript you can read here. There were two speakers. Neither of them talked about trees, or clearing utility line right of ways.

One of the speakers was Bill Howley, who explained his family’s decision — because of a commitment to renewable power and because of his local utility’s history of reliability problems — put it in the context of how West Virginia might rework its system to be more reliable:

With a few exceptions, West Virginia and its centralized electric power industry has very little experience or expertise with the most reliable electrical system technologies available today. Decentralized power generation organized around micro grid distribution structures provides for real reliability.

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Aluminum plants and power lines: Will W.Va. learn?

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Over on his Power Line blog, Bill Howley has written a couple of really interesting pieces this week about the whole controversy here in West Virginia over electricity rates for the Century Aluminum plant up in Ravenswood (see for example here and here).

And in a new post, Bill provides some commentary that, while aimed specifically at this dispute, certainly has something to say about broader energy and coal issues that we cover here on Coal Tattoo. Under the headline, What the Century Case Can Teach WV Politicians, If They Will Learn, Bill makes some important points, raising these three central questions:

1. Why is the most important issue restarting a plant that is very inefficient and uses technologies that are, in many cases, 30 years old, instead of creating investment in innovation and future industrial development?

2. Why isn’t increasing the electrical efficiency of the Ravenswood plant the highest priority for WV’s political leaders and the PSC, before anyone offers Century rate or tax breaks?

3. Are there other industries and technologies that WV should be encouraging with special deals, instead of trying to resuscitate a dead plant owned by a company that is extorting special treatment from our state’s citizens?

In answering these questions, Bill concludes, among other things:

It appears that WV politicians are continuing to pursue their policies of looking backward to recreate some kind of past industrial glory instead of building a strong economy based on current and future realities. New technologies for recycling waste heat and building energy efficiency into manufacturing apparently have no place in WV, although they are at the forefront of business development around the US and the rest of the world. In addition, waste heat recovery and efficiency provide businesses with new profit centers for their existing business. Instead of supporting combined heat and power technologies that would create hundreds of new good paying jobs across WV, Gov. Tomblin and Sen. Manchin are settling for 350 jobs, maybe, in Ravenswood with an out of state company that has clearly demonstrated that it doesn’t care anything about West Virginia or its citizens.

And, he says:

We’re still waiting for real innovation and real business development that is growing elsewhere, because WV’s political leaders are stuck on their nostalgia trip of resuscitating dead plants. The rest of us need to push them for change — and push hard, because it is clear they can’t figure it out for themselves.

Over the last few years, I’ve had my differences with Bill, particularly with some of what he’s written about we in the mainstream media. But whether you agree with him or not about the Century Aluminum case, if there’s a better example of citizen journalism going on in West Virginia — one that raises more important question, brings out more otherwise unreported facts,  and, frankly, can be more widely used to inform the paid media — I don’t know what it is.

PATH power line appears dead – again

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Here’s the announcement from PJM, the folks who manage the grid:

The PJM transmission planning staff will recommend to the PJM Board that the Potomac Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH) and the Mid Atlantic Power Pathway (MAPP) lines be removed from PJM’s regional transmission plans. The recommendations are contained in slides posted today that will be presented tomorrow, Aug. 9, at a meeting of PJM’s the Transmission Expansion Advisory Committee.

This comes more than a year after the PATH project was put on hold, after the West Virginia Public Service Commission again delayed its hearings on the PATH project, amid mounting evidence that there are viable alternatives to the power line. As some readers may recall AEP and FirstEnergy were seeking PSC approval for the West Virginia portions of the 765-kilovolt line, called the Potomac Appalachian Highline, or PATH. It would start at the John Amos power plant in Putnam County and run more than 275 miles into Maryland.

The PJM announcement says that:

—  Grid conditions have changed since the lines were originally planned, and our updated analysis no longer shows a need for the lines to maintain grid stability.

— A slow economy has reduced the projected growth in the use of electricity.

— PJM’s most recent capacity auction added 4,900 megawatts (MW) of new generation and procured 14,833 MW of demand response.

—  Although PJM’s analysis last year showed a diminished need for the two transmission lines the most responsible course was to wait to make a recommendation after analyzing the updated forecast of peak use of electricity (the load forecast), the results of the 2012 capacity auction and the effects on grid stability of the anticipated announcement of generation retirements (16,000 MW) due to environmental regulations.

Of course, Bill Howley is all over this on his Power Line blog, commenting:

So far, the TrAIL line is the only Project Mountaineer high voltage transmission line that has been built. The Susquehanna-Roseland line, as useless as all the other Project Mountaineer lines, has gotten all PA and NJ state approvals, and the Obama administration ramrodded the federal approvals to pave the way for the line’s construction. Citizen groups have appealed the NJ BPU approval to the NJ Supreme Court, and that appeal is still pending.

More misguided transmission projects are popping up all around the country. Citizens will fight every single one, until there is a sane electrical policy in our country.

UPDATED:

Here’s what Jeri Matheney of AEP said this morning:

Of course, the PATH project has been in suspension for about a year and a half now, because PJM’s evaluations have been showing less of a need for it because of the slowing economy and other factors. This final evaluation indicating there is no need for the project for the next 15 years comes as no surprise to us, and accordingly, we will close the project.

As reported in the Saturday Gazette-Mail, the West Virginia Public Service Commission has started a review of how the state’s public utilities responded to the June 29 “derecho” and its aftermath:

The state Public Service Commission on Friday ordered 12 West Virginia utilities to evaluate their preparedness for, and response to, the devastating windstorms that swept through the state during the past few weeks — and to say how they will prepare for future events.

Way down in the story, this was also noted:

… The PSC has scheduled a public hearing for Sept. 18 to discuss what could be the state’s first-ever targets for how utilities should handle and quickly fix power outages. In filings in the case, PSC staff members and the commission’s Consumer Advocate Division said the plans proposed by the industry wouldn’t have much effect.

You can read the PSC’s order initiating an investigation of last month’s storm respond here, and the agency’s order setting a hearing on reliability standards here. We’ve written before about these reliability standards — and concerns from PSC staff and consumer advocates that they are far too weak — here, here and here.

Over on his Power Line blog, Bill Howley raises important questions about what’s going on here, especially by pointing to this specific language in the order scheduling a public hearing on the PSC’s consideration of reliability standards:

As did the winter storm of 2009, the recent severe summer storms in our state have reemphasized the importance of proper maintenance of utility rights-of-way and general reliability of the electric distribution system. Electric utility customers reasonably expect and demand reliable service and the purpose of the Reliability Targets that are the subject of this proceeding is to improve reliability by reducing the occurrence and duration of preventable outages.

By the same token, a utility’s operational costs will increase when it transitions to a more frequent trimming schedule and a schedule of increased maintenance of its distribution system rights-of way. At the same time that utility customers demand

reliable and uninterrupted service, customers are likely to oppose rate increases to cover those higher maintenance costs. One of the utilities has asserted in this proceeding that the more rigorous Staff recommended Reliability Index Targets would result in additional costs in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Recovery of those costs could result in customer rates that many would view as unreasonably high. Although the Commission expects reliable and dependable services, in its review of these cases, the Commission must be mindful of the cost to meet the proposed Reliability Index Targets.

Does that should like words from a government agency that’s getting ready to take any serious action on this problem?

We published a story in today’s Gazette print edition (it’s online here) about an issue that’s been mostly ignored by other mainstream media, despite the endless amounts of coverage devoted to the June 29 “derecho” storm and its lingering power outage impacts across West Virginia. Here’s the bottom line:

As West Virginians deal with the aftermath of a series of thunderstorms that swept through the state over the last two weeks, state regulators are quietly considering the first-ever targets for how utilities should minimize power outages and quickly get electricity back on for their customers.

But officials from the state Public Service Commission’s staff and Consumer Advocate Division are concerned that plans proposed by the industry will do little to really improve the reliability of West Virginia’s electrical system.

Just last month, PSC staff warned commissioners that utility proposals would simply require companies “to complete work which was neglected for the past ten years.”

“Very little, if any improvement over the current issues causing outages will change and the infrastructure will continue to deteriorate,” wrote Donald E. Walker, a technical analyst with the PSC staff’s engineering division.

You can read Walker’s report for yourself here, and I’d also recommend as interesting reading this previous PSC staff testimony regarding reliability issues, presented as part of the commission’s investigation into the last major West Virginia blackouts, during the December 2009 winter storms.

There have been a few interesting pieces by mainstream media about these sorts of issues, such as this one about burying power lines by Taylor Kuykendall and Pam Kasey at The State Journal. And it wasn’t surprising that Pam Kasey appears to be one of the few in the mainstream media who understands the difference between electrical transmission and distribution lines.

Luckily, we have a couple of citizen journalists here in West Virginia who have been digging through PSC filings and asking tough questions about electrical reliability issues in the wake of the storms. Heck, I stole most of today’s story from them. Just a couple examples of the interesting blogging that’s been done.

Just a few days after the storm ripped through the state, Bill Howley wrote a post on his blog, The Power Line, WV Blackout 2012 – Didn’t We Just Go Through This? He explained:

Here is the second major WV blackout in three years. AEP and FirstEnergy get rate payer subsidies from FERC for giant interstate transmission projects, while WV politicians and PSC allow the same power companies to run our WV distribution system into the ground. There really isn’t much more to say.

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We’ve previously gone over here on Coal Tattoo the Congressional Research Service report that debunked the notion that EPA’s series of air pollution regulatory actions amount to some sort of  “train wreck” for the nation’s energy system.

Now, there’s an interesting report out from PJM Interconnection — the folks who manage the regional power grid — that examines the potential impact of EPA’s proposals on their operations.

The bottom line:

Even with almost 7,000 MW less coal capacity clearing for the 2014/2015 Delivery Year, PJM estimates the RTO will carry a reserve margin of 19.6 percent for the Delivery Year, including the demand and capacity commitments of FRR entities. Even with the potential retirement of coal capacity already announced by FRR entities, there are also announced commitments to replace a portion of that capacity with new gas-fired capacity such that the RTO would still carry a reserve margin at or above of the target 15.3 percent installed reserve margin. Add into the mix the potential for new entry from Demand Resources, as has been the trend in recent years, and resource adequacy does not appear to be threatened.

Thanks to Bill Howley at The Power Line blog, who brought this report to my attention and to Keryn Newman, who apparently brought it to Bill’s attention through a piece in the StopPathWV blog.

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Breaking news: PJM puts PATH on hold

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UPDATED: Here’s the announcement just made by AEP and FirstEnergy:

American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) today announced it will file, along with FirstEnergy Corp., to withdraw the applications for state regulatory approval of the Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH) project following an announcement by regional grid operator PJM Interconnection that the project has been suspended.

Today’s filings in Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia are in response to a directive by regional grid operator PJM Interconnection to suspend further development of the PATH project while PJM conducts a more rigorous analysis of the potential need for PATH as part of its continuing Regional Transmission Expansion Plan. PJM directed the construction of PATH in 2007 to resolve violations of national and local standards for reliable operation of the region’s transmission system. Since then, annual studies reaffirmed the need for PATH as the recommended solution for resolving these issues. However, PJM’s latest analyses indicate that the need for the project has moved well into the future.

“While we are certainly disappointed by the suspension of PATH and the uncertainties created by the PJM planning process, we do support a thorough and detailed analysis of the need for the project. We remain convinced that the project will be needed and plan to move forward with it when PJM completes its review,” said Michael G. Morris, AEP chairman and chief executive officer.

Here’s the announcement just in from PJM Interconnection, the group that manages our regional electrical transmission grid:

The outlook for a slower economic recovery has led the Board of PJM Interconnection to direct transmission owners to suspend efforts on the Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH).

The news release doesn’t appear to be on PJM’s Web site yet, and Here’s a link to the news release. Apparently the board decision was made on Friday. Here’s more:

PJM annually reviews its transmission expansion plans. A preliminary analysis suggests that the need for the line has moved further into the future. Therefore, the PJM Board has decided to hold the PATH project in abeyance in the 2011 Regional Transmission Expansion Plan (RTEP). The preliminary analysis used the most current economic forecasts, demand response commitments and potential new generation.

PJM will continue its analysis. The PJM Board will review the comprehensive analysis as part of its consideration of the 2011 RTEP.

And:

Over the last two years, the recession and the dramatic change in the economic outlook caused PJM to forecast lower growth in the use of electricity. Growth in the use of electricity correlates with economic growth. The forecasted slower growth rate likely will delay the need for the line.

The PJM Board’s action affects only PATH, which would connect the Amos Substation in West Virginia to the proposed Kemptown Substation in Maryland.

This announcement by PJM comes after the West Virginia Public Service Commission again delayed its hearings on the PATH project, amid mounting evidence that there are viable alternatives to the power line.

PATH power line hearings delayed – again

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The order hasn’t been posted on the agency’s Web site yet, but here’s the press release just issued by the West Virginia Public Service Commission:

The Public Service Commission of West Virginia (Commission) issued an order denying motions to dismiss the Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH) case, further tolling the statutory due date and adopting a revised procedural schedule.

PATH is a proposed 225 mile, 765kV electric transmission line and related facilities that, if constructed as currently proposed, would cross through fourteen counties in West Virginia as well as parts of Maryland and Virginia.

On December 10, 2010, Commission Staff filed a Motion to Dismiss the filing as insufficient or, in the alternative, require PATH to request a tolling. The Joint Applicants filed a response, objecting to the Motion to Dismiss and requesting that the Commission further toll the running of the statutory suspension period so that they could produce additional and more current information to the Commission.

The revised procedural schedule calls for the evidentiary hearing to run from October 11, to October 26, 2011. The deadline for the Commission’s decision is now February 9, 2012.

In today’s order, the Commission stated that it was reluctantly denying the Motion to Dismiss and that all parties should proceed with the understanding that the Commission “intends to complete the case within the revised deadline.”

See other recent coverage here, here, here and here.

UPDATED: Here’s a link to the PSC order. We’ll have more on this in the Gazette tomorrow morning.

Utilities seek delay in PATH project

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A little breaking news on the PATH power line … this just issued by American Electric Power and Allegheny Energy:

Allegheny Energy, Inc. (NYSE: AYE) and American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) announced today that their affiliates have asked the Public Service Commission of West Virginia to extend the current procedural schedule for reviewing an application to build the Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH) project in the state.

The request will allow the PATH companies to prepare updated testimony that reflects information from the preliminary 2011 Load Forecast Report issued today by PJM Interconnection (PJM). The draft report differs from prior PJM forecasts and could potentially have an impact on the PATH project’s in-service date. However, the draft report alone does not change the projected in-service date for PATH or any other transmission expansion project. PJM recently re-affirmed the need for the PATH project by June 1, 2015.

Today’s filing calls for the PATH companies to submit supplemental testimony by March 31, 2011, and requests an extended procedural schedule that moves the deadline for a Public Service Commission decision on the PATH project to February 2012. Similar requests will be filed in Virginia and Maryland this week to ensure a consistent review of the project across all jurisdictions.

As I understand it, the existing PATH schedule would require the PSC to act by July 28, 2011. Here’s a copy of the power company filing from today.

Today’s announcement comes after a motion by PSC staff that the commission reject the PATH application or at least delay hearings on the project … and today, the PSC Consumer Advocate Division filed papers supporting the staff’s motion … we’ll have more on this in tomorrow’s Gazette.

PSC staff seeks to block PATH power line

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We had a brief AP story earlier in the day on the Gazette web site, making note of a filing last week by the state Public Service Commission staff asking the commission to throw out the PATH power line application.

We’ve since added a full staff report that I wrote up late this afternoon. It’s posted here. You can read the full PSC staff legal filing here.

This was covered previously — and before any of us in the “mainstream” or “corporate” media — by Bill Howley on his blog, The Power Line.  Bill also had some suggestions for any intervening citizens who want to support the PSC staff filing, and another blog post about how he believes West Virginia news reporters aren’t covering PATH because of the advertisements that power companies buy in their publications.

For my part as the Gazette reporter assigned to covering the power line, I apologize for not jumping on this story sooner … I’ll try to do better, Bill.

W.Va. PSC rejects latest delay by PATH promoters

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It’s no wonder that The Associated Press missed the most significant point in the latest West Virginia Public Service Commission order on the PATH power line project … the PSC’s press release didn’t even mention it.

The press release and the AP story (undoubtedly based mostly — if not entirely — on the press release) focused only on several findings regarding public notice for landowners in certain areas where the proposed power line route has changed. (The PSC doesn’t yet have the press release online).

But if you read the actual order posted here, you’ll see that the PSC made a much more significant decision in this order: It rejected the latest request by PATH developers at American Electric Power and Allegheny Energy to delay proceedings in their state permit proceeding.

As Bill Howley points out on his Power Line blog, the WV PSC is concerned that the PATH project is again headed for a situation where proceedings in West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland are headed down different schedules or worse, actually analyzing different projects:

At the time of this Order, based on a review of public documents of the Maryland Public Service Commission, the Maryland Commission has not yet issued a procedural schedule in its proceeding. There is also no active proceeding on file in Virginia. We are concerned that we are moving forward under a time table that will once again separate the processing schedules in the three jurisdictions resulting in administrative inefficiencies.

In light of the consideration given to the proceedings in Maryland and Virginia in rescheduling the present case and the filing by the Applicants of a proposed revised procedural schedule, the Commission will direct the Applicants to file a brief description of available information regarding the timing of the anticipated proceedings in Maryland and Virginia and how the potential efficiency of keeping the schedules “reasonably well aligned” will be retained or facilitated by the requests in this case. The Applicants should also provide suggestions as to how such alignment could be accomplished given the statutory requirements in West Virginia as well as in Maryland and Virginia.

The PSC order concluded:

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that within fourteen days of the date of this Order the Applicants file a description of the current state of the PATH project in Maryland andVirginia, in addition to the other considerations described in the discussion of this Order.

Power line update: Another delay for PATH?

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It’s been a while since our last update on the PATH power line, so I thought we should check in on that project again.

But of course, Bill Howley and his Power Line blog are way ahead of me with the latest.

First, the companies — AEP and Allegheny — have asked for another delay in the West Virginia PSC’s review process for PATH:

PJM expects to complete its corrected base case analysis shortly, and Applicants anticipate revising their July 8, 2010 Supplemental Direct Testimony and updating their exhibits to reflect PJM’s corrected analyses on or before September 14, 2010. Applicants will propose a tolling of the current extension of the statutory decision due date until July 29, 2011, together with a revised procedural schedule that will provide the Commission and the parties with the benefit of the same testimony preparation period included in the existing procedural schedule, and with an expected evidentiary hearing in March 2011.

The entire power company letter to the PSC is here.

Bill also had an interesting post headlined, “2009 Dept. of Energy study turns away from PATH,” reporting:

The US DoE puts cost right at the heart of the issue and says that there are quite likely more effective, and more cost effective ways of solving existing problems on the East Coast than by building new transmission lines from the west, like PATH.

The Executive Summary also notes that the Mid-Atlantic region remains critically congested and that PJM’s commitment to transmission projects has been slow and ineffective.


PATH: A brief update on the power line

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It’s been a while since we had much discussion on Coal Tattoo about power lines, or about the huge PATH project … but today’s press announcement by Allegheny Energy and American Electric Power seems like a good opportunity for a quick update.

The news release just showed up in my e-mail inbox:

American Electric Power and Allegheny Energy, Inc. today announced that new studies by independent grid operator PJM Interconnection recommend construction of the Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH) as the most effective solution to address numerous electric reliability concerns forecast for the Mid-Atlantic region.

It goes on:

The latest analyses, conducted as part of PJM’s 2010 Regional Transmission Expansion Plan (RTEP), are consistent with previous studies since 2007 identifying PATH as the preferred solution for resolving issues on the region’s transmission grid. Based on the findings announced today, PJM is directing that PATH be placed into service by June 1, 2015, at the latest.

What’s all that mean? The last time I really checked in on all this was back in December, when the power companies were in the midst of a flurry of regulatory filings to delay or halt hearings on PATH because of a new analysis that indicated the project wasn’t needed in 2014, as they had been arguing.

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Big utility news: First Energy to buy Allegheny Energy

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Huge news on the utility front this morning, with the announcement that Ohio-based First Energy is buying Allegheny Energy.

The news release is posted here, and The Associated Press has the basic details of the deal:

Utility company FirstEnergy said Thursday that it is buying rival Allegheny Energy for about $4.7 billion in stock in a deal that will create one of the nation’s largest power companies with customers from Ohio to New York.

The combined company will have about $16 billion in annual revenue and $1.4 billion in profit and serve more than 6 million customers in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and West Virginia.

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PATH update: Power line seeks to pull Va. application

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Some mighty interesting news  just in about the PATH power line … It seems that the power companies have filed papers with the Virginia Corporations Commission indicating that the latest analysis shows the project isn’t needed in 2014, as they have been arguing.

The filing comes in the eve of a big hearing in Virginia, where PATH had already asked that its application be dismissed. But previously, developers said they planned to refile in early 2010, so they could better coordinate petitions in Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia. But now, they’re saying that they aren’t sure when they will refile — but it certainly won’t be before the third quarter of 2010.

Bill Howley has been kind enough to post the new Virginia filing on this Power Line blog, and you can find interesting commentary on it from Bill there as well.

Remember that the West Virginia Public Service Commission already delayed its hearing on the PATH portions in our state until late 2010, and scheduled a final decision to be due by Feb. 24, 2011.

PATH update: Flurry of filings coming in to WV PSC

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Today was the deadline the West Virginia Public Service Commission set for all parties to the PATH power line case to make known their position and arguments concerning potentially delaying the case for more than seven months.

So, there’s a flurry of stuff coming in to the commission, and I don’t claim for a second to have read it all.

But I did notice that the power companies have extended their proposed delay in the proceedings for another month, to 247 days.  Under their new proposal, hearings would be held in October 2010, and a final decision issued by the WV PSC by late February 2011.

The PSC staff have sought to have the commission throw out the PATH application, and as I’ve discussed before (See PATH motions: More than just procedural stuff)  there are some interesting reasons behind that request.

WV PSC seeks views on delaying PATH case

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This in from The Associated Press:

The state Public Service Commission is giving the parties involved in a multistate power line case until Nov. 17 to make their final responses on whether the project’s application should be dismissed.

The deadline was included in an order issued by the PSC on Tuesday.

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Power companies seek long delay in PATH hearings

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Big news out over at the West Virginia Public Service Commission, where the folks promoting the PATH power line have just asked for a 217-day delay in the proceedings.

The new filing by American Electric Power and Allegheny Power is available here.  It comes on the heels of last week’s motion by the WVPSC staff that the commission either throw out of delay consideration of the PATH application.

If approved by the WVPSC, the PATH proposal would push back formal hearings on the $1.8 billion project from February 2010 to late September 2010. The legal deadline for a ruling would be pushed back from June 2010 until January 2011.

We’ll have more details in the Gazette tomorrow.

PATH motions: More than just procedural stuff

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Some of the coverage of — and some of AEP’s statements about — the recent motion by the West Virginia Public Service Commission staff to throw out the PATH power line application makes it sound a little like this is some meaningless procedural stuff that nobody should care about.

I’m not sure that I framed it entirely right in either my initial blog post (where this story first broke last week) or in the later print story published in the Gazette.

It’s true, as I wrote, that the WVPSC staff argued this in favor of their motion to dismiss the PATH application or at least stop the clock from running on the commission’s 400-day time limit to decide on the application:

Lawyers for the PSC staff cited a Maryland ruling that rejected the portion of the PATH line proposed for that state. The Maryland ruling leaves the West Virginia PSC without a complete application to study and rule on, according to the new staff legal filing.

But let’s scratch beneath that a little bit (as Bill Howley has already done on The Power Line blog) …  Here’s what else the WVPSC staff filing said:

Time elapses while PATH delays facilitating filing an appropriate certificate application before the Maryland PSC, the information presented in PATH’s Application grows stale and less reflective of a fluctuating economy.

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WVPSC staff want PATH case stopped

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Attorneys for the staff over at the West Virginia Public Service Commission just filed a blockbuster motion that throws another significant procedural hurdle in front of the PATH power line project.

Similar to a motion already discussed here by their counterparts in Virginia, the WVPSC staff want the PATH application thrown out because of a Maryland ruling that leaves them unable to fully evaluate the project.

The WVPSC staff motion is available here. I’ll be doing a story for our print edition, and will post a link here when it becomes available.