The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Abigail Dillen, Earthjustice, 212-791-1881 x221 office

Glen Besa, Sierra Club VA, 804-387-6001

Coal-Power Transmission Line Off the Table

Corporations forced to admit power not needed

Two coal-burning
energy companies are withdrawing plans to build a multi-billion dollar
transmission line from Appalachia to East Coast cities - the Potomac
Appalachian Transmission Highline, or PATH line. The announcement came
with a concession
that the new line is not needed to address electricity demand in the
foreseeable future.
The proposed PATH line would have flooded Northeast cities with
dirty coal energy and made it harder for renewable clean energy to get
a toehold in eastern power markets. The line also would have saddled
ratepayers with extra costs for years to come. The
companies decided to abandon their pending application for approval of
the PATH project in Virginia after stiff opposition from Earthjustice
and Sierra Club prompted the Virginia State Corporation Commission to
order new analyses to assess the need for the
power line in light of decreased electricity demand, significant
efficiency gains, and a dramatic rise in the availability of demand
side management resources over the past few years.
As predicted by the conservation groups' experts, the new analyses
revealed that the PATH line will not be needed in 2014 as PATH's
proponents had previously claimed. In papers filed with the Virginia
state commission on Tuesday, representatives for the
companies stated: "These developments raise questions about the ability
of PATH-VA to support the Application now on file with the Commission
that is based on the need for the PATH Project in 2014."
Earthjustice attorney Abigail Dillen said, "AEP and Allegheny
Energy have been crying wolf to boost profits from dirty old coal
plants. It's no longer possible to take these companies seriously when
they say that they need to increase dependence on coal-fired
power to keep the lights on."
Proposed by American Electric Power (AEP) and Allegheny Power, the
high-voltage PATH line would have run through West Virginia, Virginia
and Maryland, at a cost of more than $1.8 billion to ratepayers.
Experts, testifying on behalf of the Sierra Club, found that the
proposed transmission line would have made the eastern grid less
reliable and increased air pollution. This testimony also validated
concerns raised by environmental and community groups
that the project would increase pollution from coal-fired power plants.
Read expert testimony against the PATH transmission line here.
"It is critical that these utilities invest in efficiency and
renewable energy and begin to move away from coal," said Glen Besa,
Director of the Sierra Club in Virginia. "Perhaps this delay will
prompt them to reassess not only the PATH power line but
how they meet future electricity needs."
Earthjustice represented the Sierra Club in the Virginia proceedings challenging the permit to build the line in that state.

Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment. We bring about far-reaching change by enforcing and strengthening environmental laws on behalf of hundreds of organizations, coalitions and communities.