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PATH to be canceled

August 17, 2012
Kelly Cambrel - Chronicle Staff , Shepherdstown Chronicle

On Aug.8, PJM announced a recommendation by its planning office to cancel the Potomac Appalachian Transmission Highline, (PATH) project after years of discussion.

PJM Interconnection, a regional transmission organization, operates a portion of the electrical grid powering the Eastern U.S.

The PATH power line project has incited controversy since its proposal in 2007, as its routes were originally projected to run through portions of the local region, alarming local property owners, whose homes stood in its way.

PJM called for the original construction of the PATH power lines, citing a projected need for increased power sources.

The line was to address anticipated problems with line overload and voltage maintenance along the East coast.

According to Ray Dotter, spokesperson for PJM, the organization decided to cancel plans for PATH after analysis of current projections garnered new results.

"The problems we saw five or six years ago, just aren't there anymore," he said.

A press release issued by PJM on Aug. 8, named the slow economy and new sources of generation, as two reasons for PJM's change of heart.

The decision to cancel the plan came after the route was put on hold for similar reasons in February of 2011.

Dotter said the state of the economy is "the biggest driver" of electrical uses.

"Obviously the economy hasn't gotten a lot better," he said.

Robin Huyett Thomas, a Charles Town resident and president of StopPATH, expressed feelings of vindication upon hearing PJM's decision.

"I was greatly relieved that the project was moving from abeyance to being canceled," Thomas said.

The group, made up of citizens all over the region, has been working in opposition to the PATH project since 2009, arguing its lack of necessity and potential detriment to the state West Virginia.

Keryn Newman, a Shepherdstown resident and member of the StopPATH organization, said she believes the work the group did directly impacted the decision to cancel the project.

"We feel we've accomplished the mission," she said.

Both Newman and Thomas said they see the recommendation by PJM as a win for local homeowners.

"Their lives have been on hold for four years," Newman said.

"I was personally relieved that I could go back to enjoying and upgrading our farm without the possibility of PATH severely impacting our property to include the possibility of losing our house, which was in the right of way," Thomas said.

Dotter said that PJM, who makes recommendation regarding thousands of projects, ultimately sided with research conducted as part of the yearly assessment of the proposed PATH plan.

"We look at the facts, and we make decisions based on the facts," he said.

A final vote on the status of the project is expected to be made on Aug. 24, when PJM staff will present their recommendation to the organization's Board of Managers.

 
 

 

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