We Can’t Trust PJM

Charlie Friddle is a community relations specialist for Allegheny FirstEnergy.  A couple of weeks ago, he told the Upshur County Commission that there was no such thing as Alternative One, because PJM Interconnection issued an order in December 2010 to build PATH and to rebuild the Mt. Storm to Doubs transmission line.

Sammy Gray is employed as a lobbyist by Allegheny FirstEnergy.  He is now telling our legislators that House Resolution 58 supporting Alternative One “misleads the public” because of the same PJM order.

The problem with these Allegheny FirstEnergy claims is that PJM’s “orders” don’t mean much.  PJM Interconnection is a private company made up of “members.”  PJM’s members are almost entirely power companies.  These power companies determine what PJM will and will not order.

The fact is that we can’t trust what we hear from PJM.  PJM’s pro-PATH managers are the ones who are “misleading the public.”

The November 24, 2010 letter from eight state consumer advocates, including West Virginia’s Byron Harris, tells you everything you need to know about PJM’s aggressive efforts to suppress all of the much better alternatives to PATH.  Here is what the consumer advocates told PJM management in their letter:

First, the evaluation of the costs of PATH and the proposed alternatives were not conducted on a basis that allowed any meaningful comparison of costs. PATH is based upon 2007 costs that we understand have been revised by PATH three times and not independently evaluated. The cost projections for the Liberty alternative were independently evaluated by Burns & McDonnell. We appreciate that PJM management saw the value in the independent evaluation of project costs; however PJM management did not require a comparable analysis of the PATH costs using the same assumptions as those used in evaluating the Liberty costs (or any other PATH alternative). While no doubt this gave PJM  management a better understanding of the Liberty costs, it provided no information whatsoever of how the PATH and Liberty costs compare, or whether the PATH costs are themselves reasonably projected.


Finally as it relates to the evaluation of the Liberty costs, we were surprised to learn that PJM engaged Burns & McDonnell for the independent evaluation. PJM management never disclosed to the TEAC Committee participants – or at least to the consumer advocates – that PATH had engaged Burns & McDonnell for significant work on the PATH project. The conflict of interest is undeniable and should have been immediately disclosed. For a project of the magnitude of PATH it is unrealistic that Burns & McDonnell should be expected to objectively evaluate a competing project regardless of what specific employees may or may not have been assigned to the project. [emphasis added]

East Virginian Al Ghiorzi filed this analysis of PJM’s cheating in the Virginia SCC’s PATH case:

Although PJM adopted AEP’S PATH Project as a “viable solution” to certain violations in 2007, PJM never considered alternatives to the PATH Project until 2010. While PJM claims that “it acts independently and impartially in operating and planning the regional transmission system,” the facts demonstrate that PJM (since PATH was announced by AEP in 2006), has had a fixation on approving the PATH project. DVP’s Alternative One is another direct threat to PATH. Rather than wait until an analysis of DVP’s Alternative Number One was completed, PJM approved, in mid-2010, the need for PATH with a required in-service date of June 1, 2015, and put-off a decision on Dominion’s proposal until a later date. That date has yet to arrive. An “impartial” evaluation of DVP’s Alternative Number One should have been done together with PJM’s continuing evaluation of the PATH Project, and along with a re-evaluation of the need for PATH in light of DVP’s Alternative Number One. The fact that PJM did not do so is another indication of bias on PJM’s part.

Mr. Ghiorzi’s motion is worth a read.  It provides a detailed explanation of the corrupt analysis of the Liberty alternative to PATH that the consumer advocates complained about to PJM’s management.  Here is a link to Mr. Ghiorzi’s motion.

So if you add these clear examples of PJM’s propaganda efforts to push PATH, which have corrupted the core of PJM’s planning process, you can see plainly that PJM simply cannot be trusted to make honest recommendations to anyone about the need for PATH.

While Allegheny employees may try to con us into believing that PJM is an honest broker in the PATH process, we now know better.

Under West Virginia law, the WV PSC and the WV Legislature have control of our state’s electrical system.  PJM’s managers and engineers may have their opinions, but West Virginians will have the final say.