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Judges: Power line not necessary

| Friday, Aug. 22, 2008

Allegheny Energy Inc.'s $1.2 billion, high-voltage power transmission line project isn't needed, two state Public Utility Commission Administrative Law Judges said today.

After reviewing thousands of pages of testimony and comments from numerous public hearings, Judges Mark A. Hoyer and Michael A. Nemec in a 364-page document said Allegheny Energy, through its transmission line subsidiary TrAILCo had "failed to carry the burden of truth" for the entire 240-mile project.

"Based on our review of the entire record, we have concluded that little or no need for reinforcement in the Prexy service area presently exists," the judges wrote.

The Prexy segment of the so-called Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line includes a new 500,000-volt line that runs north from the West Virginia line into Washington County. Three new 138,000-volt lines also are part of the Pennsylvania portion of the massive project, with all transmission lines combined crossing some 53 miles of the state.

The major portion of the project would be the massive 500,000-volt line, running from the West Virginia border, through West Virginia, to Loudoun County, Va., about 35 miles from Washington, D.C.

"Granting approval of the 502 Junction (at the West Virginia border) to Loudoun segment at this juncture rewards a lack of foresight and proper maintenance, and has policy implications for the location of future generation that should be carefully considered before any further action is taken," the judges wrote.

The judges further chided Allegheny Energy/TrAILCo for not considering nontransmission alternatives, and questioned the modeling used to support the "alleged" need for the 502 Junction to Loudoun segment.

The judges, who made their recommendations to the PUC commissioners, also rejected TrAILCo's filing and evidence concerning route selection and siting for the transmission lines.

"We conclude that TrAILCo has not complied with this commission's requirements for route selection and siting," the judges said.

Parties in the case now have an opportunity to file exceptions to the decision and then replies to those exceptions, said PUC spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher. Exceptions are due Sept,. 10 and replies are due Sept. 22.

A vote by the commission will follow sometime after that, Kocher said.

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