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PATH plans need dismissed

By Staff | Jan 7, 2011

The Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH), planned by the regional transmission authority PJM Interconnection with both the American Electric Power Company and Allegheny Energy owning and operating the approximately 275-mile 765-kilovolt line from West Virginia to Maryland under the pretense of modernizing the current electrical grid by 2015, must not be merely postponed but flatly dismissed by the West Virginia Public Service Commission.

PATH must be replaced in favor of a more equitable and cost efficient plan that addresses first and foremost the utility needs of West Virginia residence. The PATH project will benefit PJM’s 51 million customers in 13 states and the District of Columbia with little benefit to the citizens of West Virginia. Examine the aforementioned figures that outline where the majority of the produced electricity is going along side PATH’s projected route, running through a large segment of the state, and it becomes evident that West Virginia will bear the majority of the burden associated with the project while failing to realize the largest share of the potential benefits. Large endeavors as land expansive as the PATH project almost inevitably entail numerous right-of-way disputes and eminent domain cases that leave ordinary individuals at a legal disadvantage to the almost unlimited resources of the regional utility coordinators.

The PATH project is just one example of a larger issue that the state has been dealing with for years. West Virginia has become a staging ground for costly land exhaustive energy projects that benefit surrounding states at our expense. West Virginia is stuck with the negative externality of such expansive energy ventures while the out-of-state consumers ultimately realize the benefits without any of the environmental and health related issues of such policies. As citizens of this great state we must stand against projects like PATH, that place the burden of paying and housing the energy infrastructure for the upper north eastern United States to West Virginia. We can no longer afford or allow ourselves to stand in a periphery status to the states around us. We can also no longer allow politicians to look out for the interest of big business at the expense of West Virginia.

West Virginia must demand that we receive benefits and services that are at least as good as we provide. West Virginian’s will suffer for years under the burden of continued increasing cost to maintain our highway infrastructure due to the amplified pressure placed on it by the augmented truck traffic and heavy loads that will be required to move the amount of raw materials needed to produce electricity for so many people, and as an added bonus we also get to pay more to use the same amount of electricity in order to fund projects such as PATH. Taking a stand now shows our solidarity in opposition to the unfair utility practices that place West Virginia on the hook for the energy needs of others.