Shepherdstown resident Keryn Newman and Chloe, W.Va. resident Alison Haverty filed a formal complaint with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Dec. 23, 2011 against PATH transmission companies, First Energy and American Electric Power.
This is the second complaint Newman and Haverty have filed in two years. The two claim that the companies continue to improperly charge millions in "promotional costs" from ratepayers in 13 states and Washington, D.C.
On Jan. 21, 2011 Newman and Haverty filed a complaint for expenses from 2010.
Newman explained that she and Haverty began looking at PATH's record of expenses following an open meeting they attend ed in D.C. where path disclosed its end of year cost to regional electrical grid operator, PJM (Pennsylvania, Jersey, Maryland) .
Newman explained that PJM makes determinations on the amount collected from rate payers based on projected costs as filed by the PATH companies each year.
After discovering inaccuracies, Newman and Haverty filed a complaint, claiming fraud and over-recovery.
Newman said that PATH collected more than $ 3.3 million in recovered expenses for 2010 and $2.5 million in recovered expenses in 2011.
Newman said that although PATH claims it can recover costs associated with promotional expenses, she and Haverty argue that such a determination contradicts FERC policy.
According to Newman, FERC's policy maintains that PATH must demonstrate that such costs benefit the consumers whose increased electric rates subsidize them.
Instead, Newman is claiming that PATH has included improperly disclosed costs associated with facilitating its promotional campaign for the now suspended PATH power line project.
According to Newman, FERC opened an audit of First Energy's TRAIL power line expenses on Jan. 3.
"FERC knows something is happening," she said.
Newman also claimed that PATH has taken steps to change its protocol regarding transparency since she and Haverty have begun investigating the matter.
"PATH assumed no one was going to give them any scrutiny," she said.
Newman said it is her hope that FERC will make a final determination as to who should be accountable for PATH's promotional expenses.
Haverty and Newman are seeking a total refund of approximately $5.5 million to rate payers.
Newman said that ultimately, PJM will put the PATH project to rest for good, as it continues to generate more than $14 million in profit annually, although it has been put on hold.
Newman said the PATH project continues to loom over the heads of homeowners who wait to see how their properties could be impacted.
"It's just holding everyone in suspension for years and years," she said. "And every year they wait, that's another $14 million dollars we shell out."
Representatives from PJM could not comment as the Federal Regulatory Commission policy prohibits them from doing so on open cases.