Monday, June 28, 2010

Appalachian power line PATH misses another deadline

The in-service date for Allegheny Energy Inc.’s expansive transmission build-out has been postponed again, until June 2015.

This is the fourth time the date has been moved, beginning with the original launch date of 2012 and inching up year by year.

Greensburg, Pa-based Allegheny Energy is partnering with Ohio-based American Electric Power to develop a 275-mile, high-voltage transmission line that will run through Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland.

PATH open house meeting

PATH has held 24 public open houses in communities in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia at which more than 2,500 people have attended to seek information about the overall project, transmission line routing and engineering, property owner outreach and energy conservation.

The Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline, or PATH project, is intended to help relieve the growing electricity congestion occurring on the East Coast. Allegheny Energy has been working to make the project a reality since 2007, but has faced several delays due to changing forecasts predicting future electricity demand and regulatory hurdles.

Even so, Allegheny Energy is under a time squeeze. It is balancing a slew of regulatory approval applications for PATH, with preparing to get more than 1,485 right-of-way easements from landowners along the route of the proposed project.

At the same time, the project’s latest cost estimate, $1.8 billion, is being revised upward, partly because of the delays, according to spokesman Doug Colafella.

Meanwhile, Allegheny Energy’s legal minds and its management are appealing to some of the same regulatory agencies to approve folding the company into Ohio-based FirstEnergy Corp. The two utilities announced in February they were initiating an $8.5 billion stock swap merger, which they expect will close late next year.

“Clearly, now with the 2015 in-service date, considering the regulatory approvals that you need to get, and the lengthy construction (time) table, we need to move ASAP,” Colafella said.

See the full Pittsburgh Business Times story

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