Received from Supervisor Jim Burton
Dear Neighbors … I received notice of that the corporate backers of the PATH project would file motions to withdraw their applications for state regulatory approval of the proposed 760 kV line. This is good news! However, the better news is the reason behind this announcement: PJM (the regional grid operator) has suspended the project due to the need for a “more rigorous analysis of the potential need for PATH as part of its continuing RTEP [Regional Transmission Expansion Plan] process.” In short, analysis undertaken as part of the 2011 RTEP and at the request of a Virginia Hearing Examiner, indicated that “the expected reliability violations that necessitated PATH have moved several years into the future.” For many of us this comes as no surprise. The gist of my testimony to the SCC last month (as well as at the prior hearing in August 2009) demonstrated flaws in the reliability projections used to justify the project by both PJM and PATH. For those of us who questioned the need for the lines, the action taken by an unnamed Virginia Hearing Examiner is very gratifying. The admission by the PJM President of a diminution of their planning models’ robustness and the need for stakeholders to find new, innovative ways to manage increased complexity in long-term transmission planning is equally gratifying. This admission echoes what many have been saying for almost a decade: neither the power companies nor PJM were fully accounting for new energy sources, demand management, conservation efforts, and evolving public policies at all level of governments in their planning process.
I believe the citizens of Loudoun County and their allies should be justly proud of their efforts. I think the SCC will be hard-pressed to ever again accept on faith an applicant’s argument of need and I think Commissioners will find it harder to justify their absence from public hearings. While PJM reserves the right to reinstate PATH in a future RTEP, the standard for approval is now just a bit higher.
Best regards, Jim Burton
PS: I have posted copies of the relevant press releases in a folder marked PATH on my County webpage.