Keryn Newman of Shepherdstown and Alison Haverty of Chloe, filed a Preliminary Challenge to PATH’s Formula Rate showing that the company improperly charged lobbying expenses, work of its propaganda arm (PATH Education and Awareness Team), membership dues for groups like the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), and over half a million on “reliable power coalitions” in each of the three states, to ratepayers under the guise of construction and development costs. Newman and Haverty are both customers of Allegheny Energy, who has partnered with AEP on PATH.
“The challenge to PATH’s formula rate reinforces what the Sierra Club has been saying for years,” said Jim Kotcon, Chair of the Energy Committee for the West Virginia Chapter. “Ratepayers should not have to pay for PATH’s lobbying and advertising campaigns because the project simply is not needed.”
Jim Sconyers, chair of the West Virginia Sierra Club Executive Committee added, "This is the definition of outrageous! First we hold bake sales to raise money to fight PATH. Then PATH makes us pay for them to fight us!”
Under an agreement with the regional grid operator, an annual revenue requirement for yearly PATH project expenses has been collected from the organization’s 51 million ratepayers every year since 2008. This includes the addition of pre-construction costs that were accrued prior to March 2008 and are currently being amortized over the 5-year construction period.
The PATH project is currently being considered by the state regulatory commissions in West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland.
Testimony filed by Sierra Club before the Virginia State Corporation Commission last year demonstrated that the line was not needed and that cheaper, simpler alternatives are available. PATH withdrew its application in Virginia at that time, but has since refiled. PATH is facing other hurdles as well. Frederick County, Maryland recently denied zoning approvals for the terminus substation for the PATH line as inconsistent with local land use plans.
“Treating the wallets of West Virginia electric customers as ATMs is just not right. It is hard enough to pay the bills without the likes of PATH nickel and diming us – hoping we don't notice,” said Haverty, a mother of four.
Newman and Haverty have been examining PATH’s 2009 Formula Rate Annual Update since August. “The more questions we asked, the worse PATH’s accounting looked,” said Newman, who has a background in corporate accounting.
Allegheny and AEP have until January 3, 2011 to resolve the Preliminary Challenge. If a resolution cannot be achieved, Newman and Haverty plan to file a Formal Challenge with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
A copy of the Preliminary Challenge can be viewed here