CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Developers of the proposed PATH power line on Monday asked the state Public Service Commission for a six-month delay in formal hearings on the project, saying the move would allow more study of future electrical demand forecasts in the region.
Such forecasts form the basis for American Electric Power and Allegheny Energy's argument that the $2 billion power line is needed, and critics of the project have increasingly been pointing to data they say undermines the stated purpose for PATH.
Earlier this month, PSC staff attorneys filed papers urging the three-person commission to reject PATH or at least delay hearings and a decision date on the project so that alternatives that could be cheaper and less environmentally damaging could be more thoroughly considered.
On Monday, the PSC's Consumer Advocate Division filed a legal brief in support of the commission staff's general position and then AEP and Allegheny filed their own response and issued a news release outlining their request for a delay.
The PSC has not ruled on the matter.
Currently, the commission is scheduled to hold formal evidentiary hearings on PATH in March 2011 and a final decision by the PSC is set to be issued by July 28, 2011. AEP and Allegheny asked the commission to reschedule formal evidentiary hearings until October 2011 and the date for a PSC final decision until Feb. 9, 2012.
AEP and Allegheny are seeking PSC approval for the West Virginia portions of the 765-kilovolt line -- called the Potomac Appalachian Highline, or PATH -- that would start at the John Amos power plant in Putnam County and run more than 275 miles, into Maryland.