Read more about the power line here.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- American Electric Power said Monday it will withdraw applications for state approval to build the PATH power line across much of West Virginia, after the region's electric grid management agency recommended that the $2 billion project be put on hold.PJM Interconnection, a private agency that runs the region's grid, decided Friday to direct AEP and its PATH partner, FirstEnergy, to "suspend efforts" on the project.
The 765-kilovolt Potomac Appalachian Highline would start at the John Amos power plant in Putnam County and run more than 275 miles into Maryland.
PJM cited new forecasts that show the increased demand for electricity slowing, in large part because of the nation's continued economic problems. PJM said the slower demand pushes back the date when PATH might be needed to cure electrical-transmission reliability problems.
Terry Boston, president of PJM, said his organization plans a more detailed analysis of future demand -- and the potential role of PATH -- as part of its annual transmission review, expected to be completed in the fall.
"This action, however, does not, at this time, constitute a directive by PJM to the sponsoring Transmission Owners to cancel or abandon the PATH project," Boston said in a prepared statement. "PJM will complete this more rigorous analysis of the PATH project and other transmission requirements and then report the results to stakeholders when it is available."
Monday's move comes after a decision by the West Virginia Public Service Commission in early January to delay until October hearings on the West Virginia portion of PATH. The project's developers also have been seeking approvals in Virginia and Maryland.
The January PSC ruling was in response to a request by the power companies for a delay to allow more thorough study by PJM, but the power companies were themselves responding to a request by PSC staff attorneys that the commissioners throw out the project in favor of less expensive and environmentally damaging alternatives.
Power company officials say the project is needed to shore up the nation's ailing electrical grid and, as proposed, "minimizes the effect on the natural and human environment."