PATH Gears Up For Round II

The following text was sent out via email alert on 07/14/2010:

It looks like PATH is gearing up for a second attempt at getting their transmission line approved and sited across three states. In June, PJM reaffirmed the “need” for PATH, and in early July, PATH submitted new testimony in West Virginia. We expect a new application to be submitted in Virginia and Maryland soon.

There are also scoping hearings being held by the National Parks Service, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on July 19, 20, 21 and 22 to take public comment to help develop the scope of the federal review on the impact of the PATH project.

PATH Claims Their Line Is Still Needed

Earlier this year Allegheny and AEP withdrew their transmission line application in Virginia after tests ordered by the State Corporation Commission showed that the line was not needed. The test results caused PATH to put its applications in West Virginia and Maryland on hold as well.

Now, six months later, PJM (the regional transmission organization) assures us that they had it right in the first place, and have brought PATH back with a new set of justifications. They now say that the line is needed in 2015, instead of 2014. In addition, AEP and Allegheny now project that the line will cost $2.1 Billion dollars (vs. $1.8 billion last year) –an amount for which they will be receiving a 14.3% guaranteed return.

It will take some time for PEC and our partners to fully review the new testimony, but the initial consensus is that it is just a dressed up repackaging of the original application. Meanwhile, other utilities, including Dominion, have taken the opportunity to propose alternatives to PATH.

Share Your Thoughts on PATH’s Environmental Impact

Next week there will be a series of Public Scoping meetings across the three states where PATH is proposed. These meetings are to take public comments on what the National Parks Service, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should be looking at when they prepare their PATH environmental impact statements. The meetings are in an “open house” format and are the first in a series of meetings that will continue through next summer.

Harpers Ferry, WV — Monday July 19, 4-8pm
Purcellville, VA — Tuesday July 20, 4-8pm
Frederick, MD — Wednesday July 21, 4-8pm
Davis, WV — Thursday July 22, 4-8pm

The Park Service has additional details and directions posted online.

We are extremely concerned that the federal PATH project review will be too narrowly focused. Although the law requires that the agencies consider the direct and indirect impact of approval of the line, the agencies appear to be concerned with only the direct impact of the towers on National Park Service lands.

Instead, we believe that there should be a full review of the direct and indirect impacts of the entire line and of the inevitable consequences of increased pollution that would be enabled by the line. There should also be a comparison of the environmental impact of PATH with the impact of alternative projects. We’re preparing our comments now, and will deliver them before the August 5th deadline.

I hope you can make it to one of these scoping hearings. If you can’t make it, written comments can be sent to the National Park Service, Attn: PATH EIS Planning Team, Denver Service Center -Planning, P.O. Box 25287, Denver, CO 80225. More information can be found in this June 2010 newsletter from the Park Service.

I know it may have been awhile since you’ve focused in on the PATH project. So please send any questions my way.

Very best,

Bri West
Piedmont Environmental Council