Evidence of PATH Death Mounting

Here is a link to this morning’s article in the Martinsburg Journal about new evidence that AEP/FE are giving up on PATH.  This is the first real world evidence, beyond the la-la land of regulatory agencies, that PATH is dead.

Every June, AEP/FE must make public the PATH-generated costs from the previous year that will be added to rate payers electric bills by PJM Interconnection under rules created by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

AEP/FE has just made public the information for the 2010 calendar year and their projected costs for the 2011 calendar year.  Deep in the lists provided to citizens, Keryn Newman and Ali Haverty have discovered that AEP/FE has quietly been surrendering options they took in WV and East Virginia on the purchase of people’s homes and on power line rights of way.  The Journal article indicates that the fact that most of the released options were in Jefferson County could leave the possibility that AEP/FE may plan to reroute PATH at some future date.

Citizens should keep the situation of many home owners in mind if they are ever approached by power company land agents in the future.  A number of the options surrendered in Jefferson County were for the purchase of homes that would have been destroyed by PATH.  If PATH had been built, the initial option payments would have been part of the final purchase price and all of the payment would have been considered the purchase of the real estate.  Home owners would only have had to pay tax on the capital gains they received from the transaction.

Now that the options have been surrendered, the initial option payments that home owners received will be considered regular income and they will have to pay taxes on all of it.  They may also have to pay penalties and interest if they failed to make a quarterly income tax payment at the time they received the option money from AEP/FE.  Some home owners in Jefferson County took their initial payments and moved away, thinking they had “sold” their property already.  Now they are stuck with owning two homes.  Let’s hope they weren’t counting on future income from PATH to pay off their new mortgages.

This situation should only serve as more evidence that all land owners should consult attorneys and tax accountants BEFORE signing anything that AEP/FE land agents put in front of them.

As AEP/FE continue to surrender their option agreements, it remains to be seen how much longer they can keep up the charade that PATH is only “in abeyance.”  The power companies have represented to FERC and the National Park Service that they will “maintain the project in its current state.”  Is surrendering option agreements “maintaining” PATH “in its current state”?