Formal Challenge Filed Against PATH

Allegheny Energy has corrected some alledged accounting errors in its revenue requirements for the Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline, but the company maintains it is allowed to receive reimbursment for project expenditures from taxpayers.

Allegheny Energy attorney Randall Palmer outlined the company’s actions in correspondence to two West Virginia women who are challenging the way the company is funding the project.

The women’s challenge alleges that the expenses for the PATH project were neither prudent nor recoverable by the Allegheny Energy and American Electric Power customers in 2009. The pair alleges accounting errors and over-collection of allowable costs. The utility company had until Jan. 3 to resolve the challenge, after which time a formal challenge could be filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

With no resolution, Keryn Newman of Shepherdstown, W.Va., and Alison Haverty of Chloe, W.Va., said they will file that formal challenge.

“Neither Alison Haverty nor myself was contacted by the PATH companies during this resolution period,” Newman said in an e-mail to The Town Courier.

The two filed a preliminary challenge to the Potomac Appalachian Transmission Highline’s formula rate in November arguing that taxpayers are wrongly footing the bill for lobbying expenses, membership dues and other efforts in getting that project built.

In a letter dated Jan. 3 from Palmer to the two complainants, Palmer said the company has “resolved certain of the alleged accounting errors” and stated in the letter that a correction was posted on the PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. website. He stated, however, that he “disagrees” with the part of the challenge that asserts that certain expenditures were imprudent.

“The Commission has allowed recovery of expenses incurred to educate the public on matters of reliability and quality of service resulting from construction of grid updates,” Palmer wrote. “The function of electric utilities under the Federal Power Act is to render pubic service in a business affected with a public interest. Consequently the Commission has deemed it fair and reasonable to require customers to pay the expenses properly incurred by electric utilities in rendering this public service.”

The PATH project ran into opposition in Urbana when opponents of the project were successful in a push for the denial of its planned Kemptown substation. The Frederick County Board of Zoning appeals rejected a request for a special exception to allow the substation to be built in an agricultural zone off Bartholows Road.

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