PATH Wants $121 Million More from Rate Payers

It actually happened pretty quickly.  Despite the little fan dance by FirstEnergy’s Todd Meyers in early September, AEP/FirstEnergy didn’t waste much time filing with FERC to get the rest of their lousy PATH investment from rate payers in PJM.

And, as Keryn and Ali predicted, they want to soak us for $121 million.  Keryn has her usual excellent description of what is going on over at StopPATH WV.

In the “can’t lose” system that Dick Cheney, Ken Lay and the 2005 Congress set up, companies that try, but fail, to build new high voltage transmission lines can get rate payers to cover all their losses, IF the abandonment of the project is caused by forces beyond the companies’ control AND their losses were costs that were “prudently incurred.”

Here is the link to AEP/FirstEnergy’s filing last week at FERC where they try to argue for their new gravy train.

AEP/FE say that they had no control over PJM’s decision to cancel the PATH project.  Oh really?  Take a look at the transcript of the 2005 Charleston Love Fest.  You will see “testimony” (really they were little speeches) by the head of PJM’s western region advocating for new transmission lines right along with AEP and Allegheny officials.  AEP’s CEO actually claims that PJM can help hide the real purpose of new power lines by claiming the lines were needed to improve reliability.  No, PJM was part of the PATH planning from before PATH even existed.  PJM certainly wasn’t out of AEP/Allegheny’s control.  In fact, from the Love Fest transcript, it looks like PJM was very much under the power companies’ control.

And as for those “prudently incurred costs”?  Was it prudent for AEP/FE to spend millions of dollars on farm land before they had a decision from the Frederick County, MD Board of Zoning Appeals that they could use the land for one of the world’s largest electric substations?  That didn’t work out so well.

Was it prudent for AEP/FE/PJM to proceed with the PATH project as all of the expert testimony offered by opponents at the WV and East Virginia public utilities commission cases for the TrAIL line in 2006 began to come true in PJM’s system even before AEP/FE/PJM applied for the new PATH line?  PJM’s engineers cited declining demand, new generation on the East Coast, and increased demand management as their reasons for cancelling PATH in 2012.  ALL of these trends were apparent, even to non-experts, in 2009 when AEP/FE/PJM filed applications for certificates of need in MD, WV and East Virginia.  Was it prudent to spend all that $121 million on a project that anyone connected with PJM’s system could see wasn’t needed for the reasons AEP/FE/PJM were claiming?

You will want to follow this case at FERC, because AEP/FE want to pick your pocket for six years to get this money back, PLUS that guaranteed rate of return that FERC gave them back in 2008.  Oh yeah, get this — AEP/FE don’t want a hearing.  They just want FERC to give them our money.

There is only a short window to intervene in this FERC case, so read the PATH filing and send in your petition to intervene if you want to try to stop this travesty.

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