Regional grid operator directs suspension of PATH project
COLUMBUS, Ohio, Feb. 28, 2011 – American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) today announced it will file, along with FirstEnergy Corp., to withdraw the applications for state regulatory approval of the Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH) project following an announcement by regional grid operator PJM Interconnection that the project has been suspended.
PATH is a joint venture between AEP and the former Greensburg, Pa-based Allegheny Energy to build a 765-kilovolt, 275-mile transmission project from Putnam County, W.Va., to Frederick County, Md. Allegheny merged with Akron-based FirstEnergy Feb. 25.
Today’s filings in Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia are in response to a directive by regional grid operator PJM Interconnection to suspend further development of the PATH project while PJM conducts a more rigorous analysis of the potential need for PATH as part of its continuing Regional Transmission Expansion Plan. PJM directed the construction of PATH in 2007 to resolve violations of national and local standards for reliable operation of the region’s transmission system. Since then, annual studies reaffirmed the need for PATH as the recommended solution for resolving these issues. However, PJM’s latest analyses indicate that the need for the project has moved well into the future.
“While we are certainly disappointed by the suspension of PATH and the uncertainties created by the PJM planning process, we do support a thorough and detailed analysis of the need for the project. We remain convinced that the project will be needed and plan to move forward with it when PJM completes its review,” said Michael G. Morris, AEP chairman and chief executive officer.
PJM has indicated that it will undertake an evaluation of its planning methods through a stakeholder process. This process will evaluate the criteria used to determine the need for transmission projects under its Regional Transmission Expansion Plan, and determine whether the need for PATH should be re-evaluated in light of any approved revisions to its planning process. Once this process is complete, PJM will reassess the need for transmission expansion in the region. Until then, the PATH companies will immediately suspend most activities on the project except for those that may be necessary to return the project to active status at the conclusion of PJM’s planning process review.
“We are pleased that PJM is evaluating its overall planning process, and we hope that evaluation allows a longer-term view for transmission expansion. In the meantime, we’ll move forward with our other transmission investments including the ETT projects in Texas, our Transco projects within our service territory, and the Prairie Wind project in Kansas that recently received the go ahead from the Southwest Power Pool,” Morris said.
American Electric Power is one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, delivering electricity to more than 5 million customers in 11 states. AEP ranks among the nation’s largest generators of electricity, owning nearly 38,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the U.S. AEP also owns the nation’s largest electricity transmission system, a nearly 39,000-mile network that includes more 765-kilovolt extra-high voltage transmission lines than all other U.S. transmission systems combined. AEP’s transmission system directly or indirectly serves about 10 percent of the electricity demand in the Eastern Interconnection, the interconnected transmission system that covers 38 eastern and central U.S. states and eastern Canada, and approximately 11 percent of the electricity demand in ERCOT, the transmission system that covers much of Texas. AEP’s utility units operate as AEP Ohio, AEP Texas, Appalachian Power (in Virginia and West Virginia), AEP Appalachian Power (in Tennessee), Indiana Michigan Power, Kentucky Power, Public Service Company of Oklahoma, and Southwestern Electric Power Company (in Arkansas, Louisiana and east Texas). AEP’s headquarters are in Columbus, Ohio. Visit AEP on the web at www.aep.com.
This report made by American Electric Power and its Registrant Subsidiaries contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Although AEP and each of its Registrant Subsidiaries believe that their expectations are based on reasonable assumptions, any such statements may be influenced by factors that could cause actual outcomes and results to be materially different from those projected. Among the factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements are: the economic climate and growth in, or contraction within, AEP’s service territory and changes in market demand and demographic patterns; inflationary or deflationary interest rate trends; volatility in the financial markets, particularly developments affecting the availability of capital on reasonable terms and developments impairing AEP’s ability to finance new capital projects and refinance existing debt at attractive rates; the availability and cost of funds to finance working capital and capital needs, particularly during periods when the time lag between incurring costs and recovery is long and the costs are material; electric load and customer growth; weather conditions, including storms, and AEP’s ability to recover significant storm restoration costs through applicable rate mechanisms; available sources and costs of, and transportation for, fuels and the creditworthiness and performance of fuel suppliers and transporters; availability of necessary generating capacity and the performance of AEP’s generating plants; AEP’s ability to recover Indiana Michigan Power’s Donald C. Cook Nuclear Plant Unit 1 restoration costs through warranty, insurance and the regulatory process; AEP’s ability to recover regulatory assets and stranded costs in connection with deregulation; AEP’s ability to recover increases in fuel and other energy costs through regulated or competitive electric rates; AEP’s ability to build or acquire generating capacity, including the Turk Plant, and transmission line facilities (including the ability to obtain any necessary regulatory approvals and permits) when needed at acceptable prices and terms and to recover those costs (including the costs of projects that are cancelled) through applicable rate cases or competitive rates; new legislation, litigation and government regulation, including requirements for reduced emissions of sulfur, nitrogen, mercury, carbon, soot or particulate matter and other substances or additional regulation of flyash and similar combustion products that could impact the continued operation and cost recovery of AEP’s plants; timing and resolution of pending and future rate cases, negotiations and other regulatory decisions (including rate or other recovery of new investments in generation, distribution and transmission service and environmental compliance); resolution of litigation (including AEP’s dispute with Bank of America); AEP’s ability to constrain operation and maintenance costs; AEP’s ability to develop and execute a strategy based on a view regarding prices of electricity, natural gas and other energy-related commodities; changes in the creditworthiness of the counterparties with whom AEP has contractual arrangements, including participants in the energy trading market; actions of rating agencies, including changes in the ratings of debt; volatility and changes in markets for electricity, natural gas, coal, nuclear fuel and other energy-related commodities; changes in utility regulation, including the implementation of electric security plans and related regulation in Ohio and the allocation of costs within regional transmission organizations, including PJM and SPP; accounting pronouncements periodically issued by accounting standard-setting bodies; the impact of volatility in the capital markets on the value of the investments held by AEP’s pension, other postretirement benefit plans and nuclear decommissioning trust and the impact on future funding requirements; prices and demand for power that AEP generates and sells at wholesale; changes in technology, particularly with respect to new, developing or alternative sources of generation; and other risks and unforeseen events, including wars, the effects of terrorism (including increased security costs), embargoes and other catastrophic events.