What’s Going On?

This is my original explanation of what The Power Line was about when I started in August 2008.  I have preserved it here, because, although it focuses on the now-dead PATH project, the statement still reflects the motivations behind The Power Line.  In 2014, we have moved beyond the PATH project, but remain focused on public education, cutting through electric industry obfuscation and presenting real alternatives to the existing mess in WV and the US electrical industry.

Two electric power companies, American Electric Power (AEP) and Allegheny Energy, want to construct an interstate power line, transmitting electricity at 765 Kv (765,000 volts) from AEP’s John Amos Power Station near Nitro, WV to an Allegheny sub-station near Kemptown, MD.  This project, known as the Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline or PATH, is designed to expand the transmission capability of the northeastern and mid-Atlantic transmission grid administered by PJM Interconnection, Inc.

The power companies proposed a variety of routes for the PATH line.  They have been dropping alternative routes and have been slowly making final routing decisions.  In a number of cases, it appears that public opposition has been a factor in their decision making process.

Both power companies will be giving us lots of information about why this power line should be built.  They will not be giving us the whole story.  The purpose of this blog is to provide you with the information you need to understand all of the issues surrounding this project.  The authors of this blog believe that this power line should not be built because there are too many higher priorities facing our country at the present time.  The principal author of this blog is Bill Howley, a concerned citizen in Calhoun County, WV.  I plan on asking others to contribute postings and links in the future.

We want to keep this blog simple, so we will focus on the PATH power line.  There are a lot of reasons to oppose the construction of this line.  The least important of these is the “not in my backyard” argument.  We will provide information on the other more important reasons to stop PATH.  These reasons include:

  • PATH is a 50 year investment in coal based electrical power.  A bad investment in obsolete technology.
  • PATH will not benefit West Virginians.  If people on the east coast want more power, let them produce it themselves.
  • The John Amos Power Station near Poca, WV is the apparent source of much of the power transmitted along PATH.  This power plant is one of the most polluting power plants in the US.  It’s cobbled-together scrubber systems have already generated at least three major releases of sulfuric acid clouds in the past year.
  • More electricity produced in West Virginia means more mountaintop removal coal mining.
  • Our country needs to invest in the future, not the past.  That means creating an entirely new technology for our electrical grid based on widely distributed, smaller scale generating sources using a variety of fuels and computerized switches that reduce electricity use at the consumer level to improve efficiency and reduce demand.  The cheapest power lines and power plants are the ones you never have to build.  The US is falling behind most of the advanced industrial countries in the world in this technology because power companies and regulators are still stuck in the old ways of doing things.