Also, as the PSC staff motion indicates, opponents of PATH increasingly have been pointing to questions about whether the nation's utility grid managers - at a private company called PJM -- are fully considering alternatives when they back projects like the PATH line.
"The absence of a full range of information concerning the timing of the need for PATH and alternatives to PATH is partially the result of a bias in the current PJM process," the PSC staff motion said.
The staff motion noted the recent decision by Dominion Energy to rebuild its aging Mt. Storm-Doubs power line, concerns about which were among the justifications for TrAIL and even more so for PATH. Staff members also noted plans for the new Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway in Maryland.
"The commission has no idea of whether and how these changes impact the urgency of this project," the staff motion said. The staff noted that Dominion has proposed its Mt. Storm-Doubs project and other power line upgrades as potential alternatives to PATH.
"The question that comes to mind given those factors is does PATH represent a reasonable balance between reasonable power needs and reasonable environmental factors when there is an alternative that will have substantial lower environmental impacts that resolves the identified power problems in the near and medium term?" the staff lawyers wrote. "Staff believes this application is further deficient due to the lack of that analysis and should be dismissed."
Last year, commissioners rejected a similar motion by the PSC staff. A formal hearing on the project is scheduled to start March 21, and the PSC is due to rule by July 28.
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.