American Electric Power and its “little brother” Allegheny Energy want the Maryland Public Service Commission to grant permission for the construction of PATH. (Action is suspended because the PSC told them they didn’t fill out the application properly.)
Meanwhile, the process continues in neighboring West Virginia. The Applicant (AEP) and various intervening parties are trading testimony and interrogatories.
“No, no, no, no” says AEP. The one and only reason for the project is to improve the reliability of the multi-state, PJM-controlled transmission system. This distinction is critical from a legal perspective. After all, PJM rate-payers in Illinois and Michigan will all be paying for PATH. The “benefit” they get in return is greater reliability. (The Illinois Commerce Commission has challenged this very point in federal court.)
If, on the other hand, the coal-by-wire argument were true, then it would be unfair to charge rate-payers in Illinois and Michigan. Instead, the cost of the PATH should be paid by either (or both) the generating plants and the consumers who benefit. If that were to happen, then the project would probably not be built.
The fate of PATH turns on the answer to the question: Is it about reliability or coal-by-wire?
Let’s see… AEP proposed construction of PATH after AEP joined PJM. PATH would provide a physical connection between AEP-owned John Amos plant and lucrative East Coats markets. And yet, AEP argues that PATH has nothing to do with increasing sales from AEP-owned generating plants like John Amos.
Instead, PATH is an altruistic, community-spirited project intended to help everybody connected to the PJM system.
The PATH transmission project was identified to resolve a number of reliability criteria violations. In doing so, the PATH Project will enhance the ability of all generating resources in PJM, in aggregate, to be delivered to the aggregate customer load on the PJM system. The PATH project is neither intended to deliver any one specific generating resource or class of generating resources, nor is it designed to promote the future development of any class of new generation.
(This quote is from the Applicant’s response to Sierra-III-72 dated September 15, 2009, in West Virginia Public Service Commission Case No. 09-0770-E-CN. This and other materials related to the case are available on the PSC website.)