Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH) Right-of-Way EIS
The PATH Allegheny Transmission Company, LLC, PATH Allegheny Virginia Transmission Corporation (PATH-VA), and the Potomac Edison Company (Potomac Edison), collectively referred to as the Applicant have proposed construction of a new 765kV electric transmission line (The Applicant's proposed project) that crosses Federal lands within Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia. On Federal lands managed by the National Park Service, the Applicant's proposed project would follow existing rights-of-way by constructing, operating and maintaining new towers to accommodate an 765-kV transmission lines across the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park (HAFE), the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (APPA), Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail (POHE) and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park (CHOH). The Applicant's proposed project would require a new right-of-way corridor for a 765-kV transmission line on Federal lands managed by the Monongahela National Forest (MNF).
In May 2009, the Applicant submitted applications for the portion of the Potomac Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH) proposed to traverse HAFE, CHOH, APPA, POHE, and MNF. Subsequent to the proposed construction plan, the Applicant submitted applications (Form 299) to obtain additional rights-of-way for its proposal within the parks and the Forest. This application also serves as the application for a Special Use Permits for construction of the proposed project.
The project is proposed by the Applicant based on direction for electric transmission expansion provided by PJM Interconnection (the Regional Transmission Organization) which oversees the overall movement of wholesale electricity between many electric utilities throughout a 13 state region. The Applicant's goal is to strengthen the grid reliability to prevent outages and rolling blackouts in Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia. PJM Interconnection has a duty to maintain the reliability of the grid according to standards set by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). PJM Interconnection's load forecast model identified deficiencies starting in 2014 and beyond without the new transmission line from Amos, West Virginia to Kemptown, Maryland.
The public comment period for the project proposal was extended past the date noted in the newsletter due to technical delays. The extension provided additional time to receive public input.
On March 17, 2011, the PATH Companies requested an abeyance of the NPS/USFS permit application processing and the associated EIS. PJM Interconnection's 2011 Regional Transmission Expansion Plan (RTEP) resulted in a recommendation for the abeyance of PATH until additional modeling could be completed. The NPS/USFS granted a suspension of the process on May 16, 2011, with the request that an update on the PATH RTEP status be submitted by December 31, 2011.
On December 16, 2011, the PATH Companies requested an extension of the project abeyance. The NPS response letter dated February 27, 2012, has denied the request to the PATH Companies. The NPS National Capital and Northeast Regional Directors state: "After careful consideration, we cannot continue to hold this project in abeyance." Further, the Regional Directors note the denial is "without prejudice" allowing for submittal of the Form-299 applications for the PATH transmission line in the future if the project is shown to have a "clear public need." MNF representatives concur with the decision.
Morgan McCosh Elmer, Project Manager Denver Service Center, Planning