Read the PSC order here.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia state regulators on Friday granted developers of the PATH power line another seven-month delay in hearings on the project, as arguments mount that the $2 billion project might not be needed.
The state Public Service Commission agreed to a request from American Electric Power and Allegheny Energy to delay formal evidentiary hearings until October and a final decision date until February 2012.
Commissioners had scheduled the hearings to start on March 11 and set a deadline for a final decision by July.
AEP and Allegheny had said a delay would allow more study of new electrical need forecasts in the region, and that they were confident such a review would not show PATH was unnecessary.
However, critics of the project -- including the PSC's own staff and the agency's Consumer Advocate Division -- have argued that PATH "may no longer be needed on an imminent basis" and that the commission should focus on less costly and environmentally damaging alternatives.
In early December, the PSC's staff had urged commissioners to throw out the project's application altogether, saying it was "ludicrous" for the agency not to consider alternative ways to improve electrical reliability in the region.
Commissioners, in a 12-page order issued late Friday afternoon, said they were "attracted by the simplicity" of the staff recommendation, but felt it was not the best way to proceed.