It was a dark and stormy night...

Isn't that how all the best scary stories start?  Well, get your security blanket and your flashlight, little ratepayers, and settle in for a tale of terror!

Back in the early 2000s, Dick Cheney gathered his "secret energy task force" to set the stage for a hugely profitable transmission grid build out intended to bring coal-by-wire to every household in the U.S.  The Energy Policy Act of 2005 brought the regulatory plan to fruition.  Since then, the energy companies' scheme has been slowly dismantled piece-by-piece.  The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals watered down FERC's "backstop" authority to overrule state decisions and take over siting and permitting of transmission lines (Thanks, Piedmont Environmental Council!).  The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals remanded regional cost allocation back to FERC (and FERC answered with its recent Order No. 1000).  The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated DOE's National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors (Thanks, Sierra Club!).  The effect of this has left plans for a "national grid" stymied.

Not to be discouraged, the energy companies began setting another plan in motion.  The first part of their plan is now complete with issuance of FERC's Order No. 1000, which has brought us interregional transmission planning and cost allocation.  Bill has an excellent analysis of the lone article I've seen that actually gets to the truth behind Order No. 1000.  Dressed in a costume of "you won't pay if you don't benefit," Order No. 1000 now makes it easier for industry cartel Regional Transmission Organizations to find excuses for massive new transmission lines and a way to make you pay for the "national grid's" $220B cost.

So, what else do the energy companies need to pull off their plan?  They need to cut individual states and citizens out of the permitting process because all that burdensome citizens' rights stuff is getting in their way.  The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) lays out the second part of the industry's sinister plan very colorfully for you in Siting Transmission Corridors— A Real Life Game of Chutes and Ladders.  (I wonder if they got permission from Hasbro to use their trademarked name for that cutsie poo presentation?) 

It's all about establishing a streamlined federal transmission project permitting process that will make constructing new transmission lines a snap.  Maybe they can even install a drive-thru at 888 First Street N.E., Washington, D.C., for even faster service for greedy corporations!  NEMA's plan:  "Federal authority over transmission planning, siting, and cost allocation will significantly increase the likelihood that needed facilities will be constructed in a timely manner".  It will also increase the likelihood that transmission lines will be constructed anywhere and everywhere with no rules, oversight or forethought, except that of increased corporate profits (and that's where your wallet comes in!)

NEMA also wants to put FERC in charge of environmental reviews!  That sounds like a great plan, as long as they'll agree to let my auto mechanic perform their next open heart surgery.  Don't worry, NEMA, he's really good with mechanical things like engines and hearts...

Keep in mind what Bill said about the industry and FERC trying to "greenwash" another great transmission build-out renaissance.  It's all a bunch of propaganda and corporate public relations spin.  This is all about corporations making a HUGE profit constructing something that the American public doesn't need or want, AEP's "national grid."

So, what's in it for NEMA?   "Founded in 1926 and headquartered near Washington, D.C., its approximately 450 member companies manufacture products used in the generation, transmission and distribution, control, and end-use of electricity."  $$$

The industry wants to toss costly and time-consuming due process, state sovereignty, need determination and environmental reviews out the window because it's screwing up their plans to make a whole bunch of money. 

But NEMA isn't the only organization penciling "federally controlled transmission siting & permitting" in on their wish list for Santa Claus this year, though.  We've seen something very similar from the Chamber of Commerce recently.  And there are more, lots more!  It's sneaky and pervasive, and it's everywhere!  How many instances of expensive corporate spin pushing for federal jurisdiction over transmission permitting can you find?  Post them in the comments.

Keep your eye on this one and join us for a round or two of the opposition's favorite game, Whac-A-Mole, where we begin dismantling their new regulations again as fast as they create them.

For more about how AEP and other investor owned utilities are using propaganda to greenwash their sinister plan, here's some further reading.  And keep checking back here at StopPATH WV's blog to read the latest as AEP's scheme is uncovered and neutralized.





 
 
One of Missouri's PSC Commissioners has been beating the drum against regional cost allocation for transmission lines since last year.  It's no wonder that he's shown up in the news with a new quote... and it's a good one!

"It's like being able to remodel your house and assess your neighbors for the cost," he said.

In the above-linked AP article, Cost of high-voltage lines for wind irks utilities, there's a whole bunch of whining about regional cost allocation, with threats to withdraw from the RTO by some power companies.  It looks like most of this article, except for the last paragraph, pre-dates last week's issue of FERC Order No. 1000 because now these utilities CAN'T withdraw from SPP, even if they want to.  And the whole cost allocation thing just got even more appalling, with the new ability to spread costs over more than one region.  This means that these new transmission projects are going to get even more expensive and provide even more profits to the power companies who build them.  And you're going to pay the bill.

You can be sure that AEP is congratulating themselves on setting up the regulatory framework for their "national grid".  However, this 2010 study reveals that, "The AEP Study significantly underestimates the potential costs of a 765 kV national grid overlay."  It's going to cost you a lot more than AEP has been telling people.  How much?  "...we believe that the AEP Study’s cost estimate for a national EHV overlay of $60-$100 billion is considerably understated. Based on more recent and realistic cost figures, we estimate costs for a national 765 kV EHV overlay to be between $150 billion and $220 billion..." (and remember, this study is already more than a year old).

C'mon over to the Coalition for Reliable Power and find out how easy it is to opt out of Mikey's "National Grid."



 
 
"They noted they were completely dissatisfied with the open house format," she said. "They requested, yet again, a fully open forum in which everyone in attendance is permitted to hear each question and answer." 

Sound familiar, PATH opponents?

FirstEnergy is using the old "Open House" format for meetings designed to manipulate the citizens surrounding their Little Blue Run Poison Pond.

Despite the fact that these kind of "meetings" do nothing but increase opposition to a project, the power companies stubbornly refuse to get any smarter.

And because they're so predictable with their "best practices," they continue to get their butts kicked over and over by citizen grassroots groups.

And that's a good thing!
 
 
I've been trying to plow through FERC's Order No. 1000 that was released last Thursday, but with all the other things I've got going on right now, it's not going to happen anytime soon.  Therefore, here's what I've gleaned from it in the little time I had available.  All the news reports so far have been disappointing.  None of these reporters have actually read Order No. 1000, but are depending on the CliffsNotes version provided by FERC's press release and the statements of the Commissioners.  I'd be an idiot if I was satisfied that these stories provided all the details I needed to decide if Order No. 1000 was a good thing or a bad thing (or somewhere in between).

Bill has a pretty good general overview over on TPL.  This is his initial reaction to the order, and it echos mine as well.  While it appears that this order is going to work against the PATH project, it's encouraging AEP's "national grid" fantasy.  FERC believes we need a whole bunch of new transmission lines hundreds of miles long to pump western renewables to coastal population centers and to increase long distance energy trading (Enron?  Hello?).  As you all know, spending billions to transport power hundreds of miles, when local renewables that don't require new transmission lines are available, is inefficient and uneconomic.  Off-shore wind is located within 10 miles of population centers, and I read something recently that said existing transmission networks can handle the additional power generated by off-shore projects.  Instead of the east coast's power traveling from the west, it should come from the east.  Of course, that would spell disaster for our coal-burning buddies, wouldn't it?  Heh, heh, heh!!

FERC states that their new transmission planning and cost allocation order will "...benefit consumers by enhancing the grid’s ability to support wholesale power markets and ensuring transmission services are provided at just and reasonable rates."  However, think about it while applying a little logic.  FERC is promoting billions of dollars worth of new transmission infrastructure (plus incentive payoffs to the energy companies) that needs to be paid for.  It's going to be paid for by YOU.  The first place I went in Order No. 1000 was the Commission Determination on their new cost allocation process.  Here are the six new principles of cost allocation:

  1. Costs are to be allocated to those who benefit roughly commensurate with identifiable benefits received.  Some of these benefits are:  reliability & sharing reserves, production cost savings, congestion relief and meeting public policy goals.  Sounds great, doesn't it?  However here are a couple of things that bug me.  First, FERC prattles on about the "benefits of an interconnected transmission grid."  Scared yet?  Here's another:  In determining "benefits," power companies/RTOs can use "likely future scenarios."  To quote the Order, "Scenario analysis is a common feature of electric power system planning, and we believe that public utility transmission providers are in the best position to apply it in a way that achieves appropriate results in their respective transmission planning regions."  Now you're crouched in the corner doing some primal screaming, aren't you?  That's right, they can make up some fictional "scenario" whereby you might "benefit" from their project and assign you costs NOW.  That sounds fair, doesn't it?
  2. No involuntary allocation of costs to non-beneficiaries.  A beneficiary is one who causes costs, or benefits from the facility (transmission line).  No, this doesn't mean you can refuse to pay your electric bill, this is all going on between the power companies, the RTOs and FERC.  Nobody cares what you think, little ratepayer stakeholder.
  3. The benefit to cost ratio for selecting projects by an RTO cannot be higher than 1.25.  This means that your "benefits" must be at least .25 higher than the cost of the project that is selected.  However, this is no guarantee because this principle is merely intended to ensure that RTOs don't set too high a threshold for competing projects.  I just can't wait to see what kind of "PATH MATH" (lying with numbers) turns up in these benefit/cost ratios.
  4. Costs cannot be allocated to another region without voluntary agreement. (Again, not YOUR agreement, silly!)
  5. The method for determining benefits/beneficiaries must be transparent and provide adequate documentation that will allow stakeholders to determine how it was applied.  (Again, you're not a "stakeholder"!)
  6. Different cost allocation methods may be created for different types of facilities (projects):  Reliability, Congestion or Public Policy.
A "public policy" project is driven by individual state (or federal if that ever happens) Renewable Portfolio Standards.  So, say Maryland needs additional renewables to meet their RPS.  PJM will want to build a gigantic new transmission line from the midwest to bring wind power to Maryland, because we know transmission is the PJM-preferred solution to EVERY problem.  It wouldn't matter if Maryland is planning to construct their own in-state renewables or hook up to the Atlantic wind backbone, PJM would propose a transmission line.  Said transmission line would traverse several other states on its course and "benefit" people along the way.  That way, laws being enacted in the state of Maryland by Maryland legislators will also affect citizens of other states who had no say in their creation.  Landowners in these other states will also have their property taken by eminent domain to satisfy Maryland's laws.  Kind of sticks in your craw, doesn't it?  I expect to see this one in court in the near future.

Anyhow, that's only the tip of the iceberg.  I'm sure there's lots more goodies in Order No. 1000 I haven't gotten to yet.  I hear there's some "backstop" provision in the planning section that will cause an evaluation of alternatives in the event of a stalled project.  Sounds good... probably will end up being bad, but that's fodder for another day when I find the time to finish reading Order No. 1000.  My advice... get yourself off the grid ASAP!  That's where I'm heading and I hope you join me in my monthly giggle-fest when I don't get a whopping electric bill that pays for Mikey's "national grid."  If we make our off-the-grid club big enough, there won't be anyone left to pay for the national grid and all the power companies left holding the bag will go belly-up.  You don't have to finance this ludicrous expenditure.  Your own power generating system is within your grasp.

In other news:  Today the WV PSC Consumer Advocate Division filed a scathing rebuttal to the power companies' answers to the Staff's Petition to require a report of the condition of their transmission systems in our state.  Bill has the scoop here.  I'm trying to decide what my favorite part is.  Initially, I got a kick out of how he lambasted PJM for their bias, but maybe that's only because I was right at the point in the draft of StopPATH's Transmission Incentives NOI comments where I call PJM a cartel...  That Transco thing was pretty good too...  What's your favorite?

And speaking of Transmission Incentives comments to FERC, are you working on yours?  They are due a month from today, so get busy!!  If you need help, go here.  As you can see, FERC needs a little consumer education from the consumers and it appears that this NOI is actually a spin-off from Order No. 1000.  Get writing, folks!

And finally, go check out Bill's analysis of what's going on with PJM's strawman planning process.  Thanks, Bill!  One less thing for me to do!  As he points out in his post, The Sierra Club, Piedmont Environmental Council and EarthJustice are acting on our concerns at PJM.  So, if you're a PATH opponent who is wondering what to do with your money now that the project is stalled and we're no longer funneling all our spare cash to a lawyer and experts, why not show these organizations a little love of the green variety?  Bill's got his comments turned on now -- you can post a comment (unless, like me, you suddenly find yourself speechless).

And last, but not least, come check out what's going on at the Coalition for Reliable Power.  We're planning a series of public meetings next month intended to empower "Potomac Edison" customers to improve that farce of an energy efficiency program they proposed in WV.  Hope to see you all there!

And now I'm going to go crawl back in my hole and get back to work on all these rotten projects sitting on my desk.  Thanks, PATH, you're a real PAL!



 
 
Today's news in the FirstEnergy Little Blue Run poison pond saga:  The residents of Greene collected signatures on a petition to see if FirstEnergy's bribes in exchange for allowing them to expand their coal ash operation in the town had persuaded anyone.  Before the bribe offer, there were 500 residents opposed to the expansion.  After the bribe offer, there were 534 residents opposed to the expansion.  I guess bribery wasn't such a good tactic afterall.  Money can't buy health or happiness.  Must have come as a real shock to all the corporate fat cats who have more money than they know what to do with.  Maybe Evanson should offer them a membership in the Duquesne Club to sweeten the pot?
 
 
Another year, another PATH "Open Meeting" to discuss the true-up of PATH's formula rate project costs by comparing what they collected from ratepayers with what they actually spent for the year 2010.

Instead of an actual meeting, this year it was done via conference call.  Although I missed watching PATH's twitching (and I'm sure there was a lot of twitching this morning!), I didn't have to get up at 4:00 a.m., suit up and slog to the train.  And we polished off a pitcher of Mimosas during the meeting.  Much tastier than PATH's "free breakfast," and it helps make PATH's prevarication a little easier to swallow.

Here's PATH's presentation from the meeting.  They over collected another $5M from ratepayers again in 2010.  This is getting so old.  I think they're into us for something like $13M overall right now.  Robin Huyett Thomas from Jefferson Co., WV, questioned PATH along these lines during the call and was still left with a few lingering questions, which I explained to her after the call was over.  Here's how it works:  Each September, PATH submits a Proposed Transmission Revenue Requirement for the following year.  This is their estimate of how much you're going to pay for PATH the following calendar year.  The rates go into effect on January 1.  Each month, PJM bills your load serving entity (whoever you pay your electric bill to) for its monthly share of PATH's yearly estimated cost.  Your LSE pays PJM, who hands the money over to PATH, and your LSE adds your personal share to your electric bill.  When the calendar year ends, the estimate is compared to the actual amount spent, the ATRR Annual Update.  When PATH makes a bad estimate and collects too much (and conversely if they collect too little, but this never happens) the over/under collection, plus a paltry amount of interest, is rolled into the rates you will be charged for the following year.  For example, the amount you were overcharged in 2009 will be returned to you in 2011, however in 2011, you are also paying for PATH's estimated 2011 costs all year, so it's not like you're ever going to see a refund or reduction in your bill.

Jefferson County's Dan Lutz asked a question that PATH didn't answer to his satisfaction, and when PATH couldn't explain themselves, Dan got a little peeved that they tried to dismiss him.  Dan, I got so side-tracked by your little argument with Randy that I can't even remember your original question, but if you email it to me, I'll try to give you a real answer.  And I'll never tell you to shut up
;-)

I confirmed with PATH that both the WV and MD settlement agreements in the FirstEnergy/Allegheny Energy merger cases stipulated that no merger costs would be passed on to ratepayers.  I then asked them if any merger costs were reflected in the 2010 ATRR.  Milo said there were no merger costs in the ATRR.  I advised Milo that he might want to take a look at the discovery responses I have received from PATH because there are merger costs included in the 2010 ATRR that have been recovered from ratepayers.  So, happy hunting, fellas!  If you think it's bitchy of me not to tell them exactly where these charges appear, consider that it would have been even bitchier of me to keep quiet and not allow them this chance to fix their "mistake."  I could have just included them in a future Formal Challenge at FERC, if it was all about making PATH look bad.  Honestly, why do I have to do their accounting for them every year?  Don't they have a staff who's being paid to do their accounting correctly in the first place?

I also asked PATH if any costs were included in the 2010 ATRR that are the same as costs that were originally included in the 2009 ATRR "in error," and were subsequently removed from the ATRR by PATH in a Dec. 28, 2010 correction they filed at FERC.  You'd think that PATH wouldn't fall for this one again, right?  Well, you'd be wrong... they stepped right into it again and confirmed that none of the 2009 "errors" were made again in 2010.  So, once again I asked that they look at the discovery responses they had sent me because the same "errors" have shown up again in 2010.  Once is an "error," twice is "on purpose."  Of course, they had to take issue with that statement and plead that PATH makes lots of mistakes and never over recovers on purpose.  Good one!  If you believe that, I've got this bridge in Brooklyn that's for sale....  Again, happy hunting, fellas!

Esther Brinkmann from Frederick Co., MD, asked PATH if another Challenge is filed in January 2012 regarding the 2010 cost recovery, would FERC combine the two Challenge filings?  PATH didn't have an answer for that.  Esther... very funny!  :-)  Time for another Mimosa!

PATH then made another little presentation about the Formula Rate Implementation Protocols, PJM OATT Attachment H-19B, that governs their filings, these "meetings," and the discovery and challenge procedures.  Becky Bruner, PATH's outside counsel, said that PATH had the responsibility to work with interested parties to resolve conflicts in the time period between Preliminary and Formal Challenge filing dates.  Before the call was over, I asked Becky why PATH didn't fulfill its responsibility to work with Ali Haverty and myself to resolve the issues identified in our Preliminary Challenge before we filed the Formal Challenge.  Randy took over at this point (didn't he ever tell Becky that we had filed a Preliminary?) and said they were not required to work with us because PATH didn't agree with any of our issues in the Preliminary.  I reminded Randy that he filed a correction to PATH's 2009 ATRR on December 28 that included "mistakes" we had identified either through discovery or Preliminary, and PATH made no attempt to notify us that some corrections had been made until the resolution period was over.  All that aside, isn't the whole point of the resolution period to resolve issues where PATH and Challengers don't agree?  Maybe not when you're Randy and you think you're right, even when you're wrong, and the word compromise isn't in your vocabulary.

Patience Wait from Jefferson County began to ask PATH about "costs necessary to maintain the project in its current state" but quickly got off on a discussion about property purchase options.  PATH verified that they are releasing options when they become due for another payment at the renewal date.  Randy says that they are just going to repurchase the same options again later.  Patience asked if he thought he would be able to secure the options again at the same price.  I don't think Randy answered this, but here's the scoop.  PATH has already made at least an initial payment to secure these options.  When the option is released, all payments already made to property owners become wasted money.  PATH gets NOTHING for the money they spent and the property owner gets to keep their property.  If the options have to be repurchased, PATH will have to re-negotiate the price, make another initial payment, any payments due at renewal, and the final purchase payment to exercise the option.  PATH is tossing OUR money away by releasing the options now and planning to spend more of our money repurchasing them later.  Look up the word "imprudence" in the dictionary.  Randy got all defensive and tried to hide behind the discovery process, so Patience plans to pursue the issue through that process.  If you have questions for PATH that you didn't get a chance to ask this morning, contact me and I'll hook you up on the whole discovery thing.  The more ratepayers getting involved in discovery, the better!

Ali Haverty from Calhoun Co., WV, questioned PATH about which FERC dockets they had filed the 2010 ATRR in.  Becky and Randy insisted that it was filed on both ER08-386 and ER09-1256.  Ali tried to convince them that it had, indeed, not been filed in 1256.  Becky and Randy informed Ali that FERC doesn't do a docket notify for something like an ATRR filing because it is an "informational filing" and insisted the filing in 1256 had already been made.  Low and behold, less than a hour after the conference call concluded, I got a docket notify email from FERC informing me that PATH had just now filed the ATRR in 1256.  Are you keeping track of the number of lies?  I hope so, because I've lost count.

This whole issue of which docket PATH filed the ATRR in is only relevant because Ali is currently engaged in battle with PATH at FERC over confidentiality issues in discovery.  To see the Motions and Objections, go here and search for Docket ER08-386 and separately ER09-1256, because PATH has pulled a docket switcheroo.  PATH is attempting to alter H-19B through use of a Protective Order and by attaching senseless statements to their discovery responses.  H-19B can only be changed through a proper Section 205 filing with FERC on Docket ER08-386.  If PATH is successful here, the ratepayers will be shut out of knowing how their money is being spent by PATH because interested parties like Ali and myself will be required to keep all discovery and related challenges confidential and the rest of you ratepayers won't be able to view any of it unless you do your own discovery and challenge and sign a Protective Agreement.

So, PATH continues to rip us off and now wants to hide the evidence.
 
 
I've been watching AEP pile on the deception about why they abandoned their Mountaineer "clean" coal project, but Mikey went overboard on CNBC the other night.

"IT'S ALL THE EPA'S FAULT!"

"Just last week, AEP had to scrap plans for a new, cleaner coal plant because the company and the EPA couldn’t come to terms on the deal.

But AEP CEO Mike Morris told Cramer that he wants to keep working with the EPA to make the plant happen.

“We’re going to keep working at it,” Morris said, “because they’re trying to do the right thing, we’re trying to do the right thing."

The issue, he said, was all about the timeline. He said the EPA wanted it completed in 12-14 months, but he said it would take 48 months."


I'm not sure who's a bigger moron in this video clip.  Is it Cramer, who talks like he's got a mouthful of manure (or is it a snootful of whiskey?), or is it Mikey who is completely full of manure himself and doing some major geezing?

Cramer is talking about the Mountaineer Plant and Mikey is talking about the clean air rules.  And they just keep talking around each other with the end result being, "IT'S ALL THE EPA'S FAULT THAT MOUNTAINEER'S CCS PROJECT IS BEING SHUT DOWN!"

The EPA has NOTHING to do with the shutdown of Mountaineer.  There is no such thing as "clean" coal.  Mikey's CCS project was only going to "clean up" a small fraction of the emissions at Mountaineer.  The big, bad WV PSC wouldn't let AEP pile the costs of Mountaineer's CCS project on WV's ratepayers.  Why should West Virginians be the only ones paying for this boondoggle, Mikey?

When the reporter doing the interview is coherent, AEP's line is that lack of climate change legislation killed Mountaineer's CCS project.  But AEP has been spending billions fighting climate change legislation, so IT'S AEP'S FAULT!

Gotta wonder... did AEP have the CRA Clown College help them with that Charlie Foxtrot interview?  If so, they gave Mikey too much preposterone before the call.


 
 
Interesting hearing at the WV PSC on Friday.  TrAILCo produced several witnesses in their defense... all on the TrAILCo payroll.

Jay Ruberto lived up to his landowner-given nickname of Snidely Whiplash by stating that he was "very proud" of the job TrAILCo did.  He's "very proud" of the way he treated John & Janie Ives, whose lives were turned upside down by TrAILCo's shifty land agents and the deceitful way they were treated?  In that case, I hope some greedy corporation treats his own parents in kind.  Karma is a cruel task master.

When asked what lesson the company had learned from TrAILCo, he said it was to keep the same land agents as a point of contact for landowners throughout the project.  Problems arose because landowners didn't hear land agents correctly and none of the land agent promises were in writing.  "It has to be in writing," said Ruberto.  Take a lesson, landowners -- TrAILCo has admitted how it was that they fleeced people.  A series of different land agents making promises that are never put into writing on the purchase agreement isn't a mistake.  It's done on purpose.  It's no coincidence that a land agent in a Canadian transmission case got busted for doing exactly what was done to landowners during the TrAILCo project.  A series of shifty land agents lying to landowners is an industry-wide transmission siting "Best Practice."  I guess TrAILCo hasn't really learned any lesson at all... yet.  Perhaps the WV PSC will stand up for West Virginians and teach the out-of-state TrAILCo corporation that they can't treat people that way.

TrAILCo also produced a trio of goofy kids from construction contractors and subcontractors who looked guilty as hell while testifying that all the destruction was caused by loggers hired by individual landowners, and the individual landowners themselves.  Next time, TrAILCo needs to hire some mature managers that look like they actually have some experience and not a bunch of kids who look nervous and guilty and treat the whole thing like a big, ol' funny joke.

TrAILCo's expert witness was a botanist, not a forester,  who shared that his contract with TrAILCo to evaluate the destruction in the ROW came after the March hearings and was subject to conflict between himself and TrAILCo.  I wonder what was in that contract?  He also testified that all the damage was done by landowner-hired loggers, but admitted that all his knowledge of these phantom destructive loggers came from TrAILCo (the guilty, smirking kids).  It's no wonder Commissioner Palmer demanded that TrAILCo submit a document stating their proof of independent loggers causing destruction at each contested site along the ROW.

The complainants entered a stack of DEP violation notices of individual incidences of environmental destruction for the TrAILCo project.

We gave TrAILCo's drama-queen, jack-in-the-box lawyer a new name after watching him pop out of his seat like it was spring-loaded with annoying regularity to object to everything and anything.  Me-me-me-me-me-lick (because it's all about "me") actually whined that TrAILCo's previously supplied map indicating which portions of the ROW were cleared by TrAILCo vs. which portions were cleared by landowners might not be correct because it was "only concerned with the 8 original sites identified in the complaint."  So, did TrAILCo lie when they submitted it, or are they lying now?

The Commission gave TrAILCo 30 days to submit their "proof" that all the instances of destruction in the ROW were caused by these mysterious "others."  The complainants will then have another 20 days to submit their rebuttal (which me-me-me-me-me-lick objected to and lost).  Then the Commission will issue its decision in the case.

Meanwhile, TrAILCo had best get busy repairing all the damage they did to private property while they built their transmission line and quit whining about how much it's going to cost.  Maybe if they hadn't offered all those bribes, like the new "transmission headquarters" and donations to energy assistance programs, in order to get their project approved by the PSC in the first place, they wouldn't be so hideously over budget now.  What do they care anyhow?  The ratepayers are footing the bill for all of it, and TrAILCo makes a pile of profit in yearly returns on the money they have invested in the project.  As a ratepayer, I'd much rather see my money being spent to return the private land to its former state, instead of leaving a trail of destruction and angry landowners as a legacy.  But then again, I must have a different definition of "proud" than the shysters at TrAILCo.
 
 
Lucky me!  I keep running into TrAIL in my recent travels.  Once we came across it somewhere in Hampshire County, WV, and once again while traveling Rt. 66 W in Virginia to I-81.  It's huge, it's ugly, it has balls, and it wrecks scenic views from miles away.


The continuation of the TrAILCo WV PSC hearing is scheduled for this Friday.  To see how Allegheny Energy's TrAILCo contractors cleared rights-of-way down to the bare earth in violation of stipulated clearing practices, testimony and evidence filed in the case is available by searching the WV PSC for Case No. 09-1758-E-C.

You can watch the continuation of the hearing live as it happens on the WV PSC's webcast.  The hearing begins at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, July 15, and will probably last most of the day.  If you're unable to watch live but want to know what's happening, I'll be watching it and posting updates in the comments section of this post like I did last time, so keep checking back.

Here's more about the case from a press release:

Public Hearing on Re-vegetation of TrAIL Transmission Line Right-of-Way, July 15th, Charleston

West Virginia Property Owners ask that Allegheny Energy Protect Streams and Rivers along the Powerline Right-of-Way by Restoring Vegetation

Tucker County, West Virginia. July 12, 2011 – Property owners along the length of the new Allegheny Energy (TrAILCo) 500 kV line asked the W.Va. Public Service Commission (PSC) in 2009 to make TrAILCo follow the conditions of their permits for protection of streams and forests along their transmission line through the state. The TrAILCo 500 kV line carries electricity from western Pennsylvania, through northern West Virginia to the Washington D.C area. Although Allegheny Energy is now
a subdivision of FirstEnergy, the case that began in 2009 continues. In the spring of 2011 an initial hearing was held in Charleston and TrAILCo determined that they needed more time to prepare a response to the citizens' complaint. On July 15th a second hearing will
be held to allow TrAILCo to address the accusations of illegal cutting and clearing.

Citizen complainants have provided evidence that TrAILCo cleared the right-of-way for their 500 kV line in ways that threaten the health of streams and contrary to PSC orders in 2008. TrAILCo has claimed that the clearing was mostly out of their control.  The hearing on July 15th will allow TrAILCo to explain why the company is not responsible for the clearing that threatens water quality in the streams crossed by the transmission line. The transmission line crosses streams 126 times in West Virginia and the PSC required that trees and shrubs be left in valley bottoms, particularly near streams.  The citizens identified multiple locations, including Prickett's Creek (Marion Co.) and the North River (Hardy Co.), where TrAILCo did not leave trees or shrubs near streams and argue that TrAILCo excessively cleared many valley and stream crossings, contrary to PSC orders.

In pre-hearing filings the complainants have asked that the PSC make TrAILCo restore vegetation to the stream banks and to valley bottoms where TrAILCo removed
stream-side trees and brush. The complainants are also asking that the PSC require any future transmission line construction provide better protection to streams and rivers.  The hearing to resolve the complaint concerning TrAILCo's clearing of the right-of-way for their transmission line will be held in the PSC Howard Cunningham Hearing Room, 201 Brooks Street, Charleston, West Virginia starting at 8:30am.



 
 
Since Randy Palmer is being a party-pooper this year and not hosting an actual Open Meeting at the offices of Pillsbury, Winthrop, Shaw & Pittman, you all are invited to my house for breakfast and to participate in the Open non-Meeting conference call via speaker phone on July 20 at 10 a.m.

In order to participate in the conference call, you need to RSVP with Randy no later than July 14 (that's tomorrow!)  For instructions on sending your RSVP to Randy, send him an email and required information as listed in this notice.

As far as sending an RSVP to me (because I'm not quite as anal retentive), just let me know you're coming no later than the night before the non-meeting conference call.

We'll be serving coffee and donuts, perhaps even Mimosas and Bloody Marys, on the patio during the conference call.  See?  You'll still get a free breakfast after all!

Bring your questions for PATH about how they spent your money in 2010.  Heck, you can even bring your recording devices and cameras and take pictures/record audio to your heart's delight!  And whatever else he tried to prohibit last time... you can do that too!!

See you all next Wednesday!