November 28, 2007
Gov. Joe Manchin and members of the state Public Service Commission are right to withhold judgment regarding a proposal to construct a major new power line in West Virginia, until they determine precisely how it will affect Mountain State residents.
Allegheny Energy plans to construct a 240-mile-long, 500-kilovolt line through the state, to carry power to the Eastern seaboard. The company wants state approval for a 1.2 percent rate increase to help finance the power line.
Manchin’s position has been simple: He wants to be assured that owners of property taken for construction of the line will be compensated properly — and that West Virginians will pay only their fair share for the line. He also is curious about how the line will affect the state’s tax base.
Some of those questions probably will be answered by the PSC, which is investigating Allegheny’s proposal and public reaction to it.
“Not in my backyard” syndrome already appears to be a factor in the company’s proposal, with some of those in the area through which the line is to run on record in opposition to it.
Clearly, Manchin and other state officials are right to insist that Mountain State residents not bear an undue share of the burden for the power line. After all, it is intended primarily to carry power through the state, to residents and businesses in other states.
Still, the line will have an effect on West Virginia — in some measure, at least, because some of the power carried by it will be generated in the state and/or by coal mined here.
Another consideration is that the line, if constructed, will be part of a regional power grid serving many states. The overall capacity of that grid affects each and every state served by each and every segment of it.
Providing that state officials can be assured that West Virginians will not bear an unfair share of the cost — in dollars and in landscape that now attracts many tourists — they should grant whatever approvals Allegheny needs to construct the transmission line.