I just came across a propaganda piece that AEP put out about their proposed “I-765” mega-transmission line project from the John Amos plant to New Jersey. Well, that one didn’t turn out too well, but this paper includes clear examples of the kind of clearing that Allegheny/FirstEnergy should have done on the TrAIL line. Here is a link to the AEP paper.
It looks like the pictures in the paper are from AEP’s Jacksons Ferry – Wyoming line which was built in the early 2000s. This huge 765 kV transmission line went through southern WV in terrain almost exactly like TrAIL’s.
Here is a picture taken from page 6 of the AEP paper. Compare that with the picture of Allegheny’s TrAIL clearing in my earlier post. This is what Allegheny’s Class 2 and Class 3 clearing looks like when it is done right.
When PSC staff attorney John Auville was cross-examining John Coleman on Tuesday about his pictures of Allegheny’s butchered clearing technique, Mr. Auville implied that Allegheny’s “take it all off” approach might be the only practical way to do right of way clearing. Look at the AEP pictures. Mr. Auville is clearly wrong.
However you may feel about the wisdom of constructing massive transmission lines, it is clear that AEP’s technique of minimizing disturbance of low growing plant communities is by far the preferable alternative to Allegheny’s rip and run method. AEP’s system keeps forest topsoil in place and maintains the integrity of a plant community that can maintain itself with no interference to the transmission lines above it.
At the time Allegheny Energy was building TrAIL, the company was in an active partnership with AEP on the now dead PATH project. Allegheny project managers on TrAIL certainly had access to AEP’s construction expertise.
Why didn’t Allegheny use AEP’s proven techniques that had been used ten years earlier on the Jacksons Ferry – Wyoming line?
Why did Allegheny tell the WV PSC that it was going to use these responsible clearing practices on TrAIL and then completely ignore them when construction began?