On behalf of StopPATHWV, Inc., I would like to express our thanks to the Jefferson County interveners, volunteers, financial supporters, elected officials and friends for their participation and support over the past several years as we opposed the Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH) project. The February 28 announcement by PJM Interconnection (PJM) directing American Electric Power and FirstEnergy to suspend efforts on PATH is vindication of our position. Our opposition has always been based on our determination that the PATH project is not needed, but instead motivated by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) incentives, including recovery of all project costs and a 14.3 percent return on equity. For the thousands of citizens who have been fighting a David vs. Goliath battle with the corporations for nearly three years, this is a major victory.
The need for the project has now shifted beyond PJM's 15 year planning horizon (2026 or later), according to PJM planning documents submitted at a recent Virginia State Corporation Commission hearing. However, PJM will be conducting what it calls "more rigorous analysis of the potential need for PATH" in the near future. AEP's CEO Michael Morris told the Energy Business Review, "We remain convinced that the project will be needed and plan to move forward with it when PJM completes its review."
It is unacceptable that PJM's and PATH's unwillingness to accept decreasing demand for electricity and the changing landscape for energy policy could continue to hold landowners in three states hostage as they persist in endlessly entertaining an unneeded project.
Meanwhile, PATH has advised FERC that suspension of this project in lieu of abandonment will enable them to continue to utilize their Formula Rate cost recovery mechanism to recover project costs from ratepayers to "maintain the project in its current state." They will continue to hold real estate purchased and collect a 14.3 percent return on equity from electric ratepayers for a project that has no projected in-service date and for which the companies are no longer seeking permits. We have asked that FERC intervene to cause the project to be properly abandoned now. If a need for PATH, or a similar project, materializes in the distant future, the companies can reapply for FERC incentives at that time. Funds recovered from ratepayers have financed this project to date, and will continue to do so indefinitely under their current scheme of holding of the project in abeyance for another 15 years or more.
We will also continue to pursue the Formal Challenge to PATH's 2010 Formula Rate Annual Update at FERC, which details PATH's over recovery of more than $3M from ratepayers in thirteen states and the District of Columbia in 2009.
We urge everyone to remain vigilant as we continue our fight against this project. We plan to continue, and expand, our efforts and welcome your involvement. Please visit our website, stoppathwv.com, to keep current on the status of the PATH project, as well as any potential future routing changes.