WV PSC Turns Tail and Runs from PATH FERC Case

Just as settlement discussions are reaching a conclusion, what does the WV PSC do?  They cut and run.  Yup.  Last week, the WV PSC filed a letter withdrawing from the PATH abandonment case.  That is the case in which AEP/FirstEnergy are trying to dump millions of dollars of unrecovered costs for their failed PATH project on WV rate payers.

AEP/FirstEnergy want $121 million in all from all rate payers in PJM Interconnection’s region.

One thing is certain, the WV PSC doesn’t care about our electric rates going up.  Two WV citizens, Alison Haverty and Keryn Newman have been fighting PATH’s bogus rate increases for the past four years with no help from either the WV PSC or the WV Consumer Advocate.  Two other WV citizens, in addition to citizens from MD, have filed as intervenors in the FERC abandonment case, but the WV PSC hasn’t got the time or the interest to stick around and fight for West Virginians.

Shame on the WV PSC.


PATH Zombie Goin’ Down

Here are the points from slide 15 of today’s TEAC reliability update that I linked to in my last post:

•Continue to validate preliminary analysis
•Complete 2017 N-1-1 analysis
•Additional sensitivity analysis

Slide 15 is titled PATH and MAPP Next Steps.  The N-1-1 (N minus 1 minus 1) is a contingency analysis where PJM runs a model of the PJM system under peak load and then drops a major generator off the system.  Then, a few minutes later, they drop another generator off the system to test how much transmission capacity is needed to handle the emergency power flows that result from this event.  This appears to be the last test for PATH and MAPP.

Here is a paraphrase of the situation from an email that was sent to me by a participant in the TEAC conference call:

They still need to do their N-1-1 power flow analysis. But they have completed all of their other tests – voltage and thermal. So far, it looks like PATH and MAPP are not needed throughout the 15 year planning horizon.

It looks like the lower CETO numbers, reconductoring of Mt. Storm to Doubs line, and reactive upgrades may have eliminated the need for PATH (as our experts were saying). This result indicates that alternatives can help eliminate the need for large potential projects.

PJM intends to complete their analysis (the N-1-1 testing) before the next TEAC meeting on 8-9-12. If the analysis continues to show that the PATH and MAPP lines are not needed, the TEAC committee will recommend to the PJM board that the projects be dropped from the RTEP (and no longer held in abeyance).

In other words, it looks like PATH is goin’ down and we should know the final decision at the August 9 TEAC meeting.

Here’s Pam Kasey’s story over at the Grounded blog.

The PATH Zombie Could Be Dead

Remember this post where I tried to read the PJM Kremlinology concerning the future of PATH?  Remember PJM’s Steve Herling telling Pam Kasey at The State Journal that PJM’s board of managers would make a final decision on PATH in “June or July”?

Read this new post by Keryn at StopPATH WV.

PJM’s Transmission Expansion Advisory Committee has just issued its latest reliability update on the PJM system.  Here’s a direct link to the TEAC report.  Here are some important features of that report:

  • PJM didn’t even bother to model either MAPP or PATH in the analysis
  • MAPP has dropped off all reliability need scenarios for the 2012 RTEP
  • The CETO value, which is the required transfer capability of power when the system is under stress in the models, is less than the CETL limit for safety on the system, which means that PJM’s current system can handle any of the problems they threw at it in their modeling, thus, no reliability problems anticipated in the Mid-Atlantic region.
  • The need for PATH has completely disappeared from the analysis.

There is a conference call with the TEAC, which is taking place until about 3:00 pm today.  I will post again if the TEAC reveals any specific plans about PATH.

It could all be over for the zombie after today.

PJM Capacity Results Coming Soon

If you want to learn more about PJM’s capacity auctions, here is a good story from Reuters about the auction results that will be released after this year’s auctions close on Friday.

This is an important date for people following the PATH zombie.  Remember when PATH tried the unsuccessful “60 days after whenever” game on the National Park Service?  Here’s what they told the NPS:

As indicated by the PJM Staff report, additional analysis will be undertaken after completion of the May 2012 forward capacity auction results. The time required by PJM Staff to perform such analysis thereafter is not yet known. [emphasis added]

The NPS didn’t buy that line, and cut off the PATH EIS process for good.  But then we got this statement from PJM’s Steve Herling in early March, as reported by the State Journal’s Pam Kasey:

PJM will make a recommendation about PATH to its board of managers in June or July. It will make its recommendation based on information gleaned in the first part of the year about planned generation construction and retirements and about consumer commitments to reduce demand during peak periods.

Note that Herling says that PJM will make its final decision on PATH’s fate in “June or July,” in other words, after the May capacity auction results are released.

Remember that one of PJM’s original arguments for PATH was that capacity prices in eastern PJM were much higher than prices in western PJM.  They didn’t say it out loud, but this was the real reason for Project Mountaineer and PATH — to increase the profits of power generators in western PJM and also to raise electric rates in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and West Virginia by sending more of their power to East Coast states.

In the years since PATH was proposed in 2006, the capacity auction price difference has been reduced dramatically, mainly because of the rapid expansion of demand resources (from marketable demand management) on PJM and expanding generation on the East Coast.

If that trend continues at this year’s auction, it is quite likely that PJM will pull the plug on PATH, at least that is the latest Kremlinology hint from PJM headquarters at Valley Forge.  We’ll be looking for the PJM press release on this years auction results.

WV Media Blackout on Alternative One Continues

The Martinsburg Journal’s Matt Armstrong appears to be the only West Virginia reporter covering House Concurrent Resolution 58.  Here is today’s story.

In the last month or two, there has been some reporting on Alternative One.  In all of these stories, reporters have allowed AEP/Allegheny FirstEnergy publicists to confuse the Mt. Storm to Doubs rebuild with the much larger Alternative One project.  No reporter has challenged these deliberately misleading statements.  No one has reported the fact that the Virginia SCC has ordered the power companies to provide an evaluation of Alternative One on an equal footing with PATH, while the WV PSC has failed to require this analysis.

It’s no wonder Sen. Manchin can get away with such whoppers as his recent statement that “I thought PATH was dead.”

It appears that, when it comes to WV reporting on PATH and Alternative One, Mark Twain was right, “”If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed.”  There are a few exceptions, like the Journal and the Hur Herald and the Weston Democrat, as well as Ken Ward’s reporting in the Gazette, but these are exceptions, not the rule.

The Louis Berger Group – War Profiteers Behind the Bat Guys

One of our friends in Barbour County has recently put up a new Web site called LouisBergerSucks.com.  She has a lot of great information about the massive failures of the Louis Berger Group, which turns out to have been a major war profiteer in both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.  The Berger Group has done its part for the failure of these Cheney administration attempts to destroy our country’s national security.

Not only is Berger providing the bat guys, but they were responsible for designing the routes for TrAIL and PATH through WV, MD and East Virginia.  The Berger Group is deeply involved in the profitable business of destroying West Virginians’ land for dubious construction projects.  Dubious construction projects appear to be Berger’s specialty, whether in Appalachia or Afghanistan.

Here is a link to the Berger Group’s promotional brochure touting its work on transmission lines.  The top three projects noted in the brochure?

Trans Allegheny Interstate Line (TrAIL)
In June 2006, PJM directed the construction of $1.3 billion in electric transmission upgrades to respond to looming transmission infrastructure reliability concerns. Included in these necessary upgrades are roughly 240 miles of 500 kV and 138 kV lines connecting substations within the Allegheny Energy and Dominion Virginia Power service territories. For this project, the Berger Team conducted route planning efforts, facilitated public meetings, and prepared route selection reports and associated expert witness testimony for three 138 kV lines and nearly 180 miles of 500 kV line in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. The Berger Team completed the entire study area analysis, route planning, public outreach effort, and report preparation under an aggressive schedule necessary to meet in-service dates driven by PJM’s projections for system reliability failures in 2011 and 2012.

Potomac-Appppalachian Transmission Highline (PATH)
The Berger Team is currently conducting efforts in support of the PATH Project, a joint venture transmission project between American Electric Power Company, Inc. (AEP) and Allegheny Energy, Inc. (Allegheny). The PATH project consists of a 765 kV line that begins at AEP’s Amos Substation in Putnam County, West Virginia and eventually ends at a proposed Kemptown substation east of Frederick, Maryland. The Berger Team is currently conducting route selection efforts, supporting the public involvement process, and coordinating local, state, and federal agency consultations for this project in West Virginia and Virginia. We are presently conducting permitting for this project. The portion of this project being planned by the Berger Team is roughly 230 miles in length and covers a study area of nearly 10,000 square miles.

Susquehanna to Roseland 500 kV Line
The proposed Susquehanna to Roseland Transmission line entails the construction of approximately 145 miles of 500 kV transmission line extending from Berwick, Pennsylvania to Roseland, New Jersey. PSE&G and PPL both retained the Berger Team to conduct siting efforts, permitting, , and licensing support for this major transmission infrastructure improvement project. The Team’s siting study and review of potential impacts included, among other issues, an evaluation of current land use, cultural resources, wetlands, vegetation, wildlife, and aesthetics. In addition, Berger helped both utilities submit applications for certification to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. Berger is currently leading the federal, state, and local permitting efforts on both states on behalf of PPL and PSE&G.

The Berger Group brochure is also notable for some really creepy pictures of high voltage and extra high voltage transmission lines.

So the bat guys are just the tip of the “Berger Team” iceberg.  The Berger Group ranks right up with Cheney’s Halliburton for corruption and incompetence.  Berger’s management knows how to latch onto the money gravy train, where ever it is.  It is no wonder they popped up on these FERC subsidized transmission projects.

See for yourself on Berger’s Web site.  Berger must have a great marketing department.  They designed a logo for the company that resembles the crosshairs on a rifle scope aiming at the earth.

First Steps on Federal Environmental Impact Statement Work

The National Park Service, the lead agency on the PATH federal environmental impact statement (EIS), has filed its scope of work description in preparation for bidding out its EIS work for PATH.

Here is a link to the document.

A few noteworthy items:

  • The EIS will include a determination on “Climate Change and Sustainability: The proposed action [PATH] could have an effect on or be affected by climate change and sustainable energy use.”  Read Christopher James’ expert testimony in the VA SCC case.  There is no question that PATH will make climate change worse.
  • The EIS process will include public comment and meetings at several points in the study process.  WV meetings will be held in Elkins and Harpers Ferry.
  • It appears from the schedule of the EIS process included at the end of the scope of work document that the federal EIS public meetings will take place between March and July 2010.

Get ready for the federal EIS process.  We can have a major impact on the PATH project if we show up and file public comments in large numbers.

Climate Change and Sustainability: The proposed action could have an effect on or be affected by climate change and sustainable energy use.