Under the deal, Allegheny agreed to use an alternate route proposed by the consumer advocate. Instead of cutting across southern Monongalia and Preston counties - where opposition has been the most organized - the line would go more directly south, before cutting east and following existing transmission lines from Pruntytown to Mount Storm.
"If you're going to site this line, that is a better route," said Byron Harris, the PSC's chief consumer advocate. "You're using existing rights of way, rather than cutting a swath through virgin territory."
Harris said he was also especially pleased with the more than $40 million in savings for West Virginia ratepayers.
"It's rare in this business that we get to achieve those kinds of savings," Harris said.
Lara Ramsburg, communications director for Gov. Joe Manchin, said the governor's office was not tipped off ahead of time about the settlement, or about Allegheny's plan to move its transmission operations center to the state.
Allen Staggers, spokesman for Allegheny, said the plans are still being worked out. It's not clear yet how many of the jobs involved - estimated at 100 to 150 - would be new positions and how many would involve transferring existing employees.
The PSC must still decide whether to approve the TrAIL line, and commissioners Jon McKinney and Ed Staats are not obligated to go along with the staff settlement.
Allegheny asked the PSC to delay its decision, originally due May 2, for a month to study the settlement's possible impacts on the case.
On Wednesday, the West Virginia Sierra Club, which intervened to oppose TrAIL, issued a statement that compared the settlement to the sale of Manhattan Island from the Canarsee Indians to the Dutch in 1626.
"We do not question for a moment the good faith of the signatories on behalf of the public entities, and plainly no one can criticize the TrAIL representatives for seeking an advantageous bargain," the statement said. "However, we cannot avoid the conclusion that the proposed settlement is anything other than one more bad bargain between the unsophisticated 'locals' and the folks on the big ships in the harbor with all those flashy beads."
To contact staff writer Ken Ward Jr., use e-mail or call 348-1702.