As we approach the end of 2011, we are also approaching two important deadlines that could finally kill the zombie PATH project.
Back in July, the National Park Service suspended their consideration of the PATH Environmental Impact Statement “until no later than December 31, 2011.” That means that come December 31, the suspension will end and NPS will either reopen the EIS process and continue to evaluate a project that has no existing applications for certificates of need in any of the three affected states, OR NPS will end the EIS process altogether, effectively rejecting approval of the PATH process. It is possible that the NPS could issue another extension of the suspension, but we shall see.
The other big deadline coming up is sometime in February 2012 when PJM Interconnection releases its final version 2011 Regional Transmission Expansion Plan. It was PJM’s preliminary findings for the 2011 RTEP that dealt PATH its death blow, when PJM determined that, even with PJM’s distorted planning criteria, PATH would not be needed until 2022 at the earliest, if at all. Now we will get a chance to see what happens to PATH in the final version of the 2011 RTEP, including the complete data from 2011.
It is likely that the 2011 PJM RTEP will deal the final death blow to the PATH zombie. Demand resources have continued to grow in eastern load zones, and NJ is proceeding with its plans to build at least one new natural gas fired power plant. The huge new solar array at Perdue Corporation on the eastern shore of MD will also be in operation soon, and new solar generation has exploded in states like MD and NJ, where political leaders are serious about expanding new renewable capacity, unlike WV. The new battery array at the AES wind farm near Elkins will probably eliminate most or all of PJM’s claims that PATH was needed to provide voltage regulation in eastern WV. All of these trends will combine to make PATH disappear completely from the 2011 RTEP, unless PJM comes up with some new way to rig their planning process.
So keep your eyes on The Power Line in coming months. We’ll let you know about the future of the PATH zombie project as these deadlines approach.