On February 28, 2011, the PJM Interconnection L.L.C. Board of Managers (“PJM Board”) instructed transmission owners to “suspend efforts” on the Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline (“PATH”).  The PJM Board decided to hold the PATH project “in abeyance” in the 2011 Regional Transmission Expansion Plan (“RTEP”) based on an analysis of current economic forecasts, demand response commitments, and potential new generation.

The PATH project would run from a substation at American Electric Power Company’s (“AEP”) John Amos plant in Charleston, West Virginia, to a substation in Frederick Maryland.  The project was previously delayed in December 2009 and has faced difficulties ever since (see January 8, 2010 edition of the WER).  This latest delay does not direct the Transmission Owners, AEP and FirstEnergy (which merged with initial Transmission Owner Allegheny Energy), to abandon the PATH project, but it does halt development efforts except for those which maintain the project in its “current state.”   The latest delay is based upon a series of analyses, prompted by the 2011 RTEP and the Virginia Hearing Examiner.  The analyses revealed that the reliability violations which prompted PATH have moved to several years in the future from initial estimations.

PJM will continue to evaluate the need for the PATH project in connection with the recession and changes in electricity forecast growth.  In a February 28, 2011 statement, Terry Boston, on behalf of the PJM Board, stated that PJM will complete a “rigorous analysis of the PATH project and other transmission requirements” and then report the results to stakeholders.

A copy of the PJM Board’s announcement is available here.