The Dernogalizer

July 20, 2009

Down with PATH

Filed under: Energy/Climate,environment,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 8:01 pm
Tags: , , ,

I had a column opposing the Potamac Appalachian Transmission Highline(PATH) last December.  These massive transmission lines from the Midwest and Appalachia would transport coal power to Maryland and other northeast states.  Bad news when you’re trying to reduce your state’s carbon footprint.  My friend Alana Wase at the Sierra Club had a column out a couple weeks ago which echoed these sentiments and tactfully rebutted a pro-PATH column which had been published.  I’m reposting her column below.

Let’s not take the wrong path to clean, reliable energy

In response to the letter written by H. Russell Frisby in the June 4 edition of The Gazette (“PATH is the sensible, high tech solution critical to our region”):

Let’s assume it’s a hot sunny day in July.

The demand on our region’s electric transmission grid is at its peak, and it is operating at full capacity from wind generated power off the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

The air is clean and the rivers running through Frederick County and into the Chesapeake Bay are pure; safe to swim in, fish in and even eat one’s catch without worrying about mercury and other toxins.

There are no intrusive transmission line towers tainting the aesthetics of Western Maryland’s great forests and mountains to deliver dirty energy from West Virginia to Baltimore.

Instead, the energy is derived near population centers and from clean renewable energy — wind, just off the coast.

This scenario is clearly in the future, and it’s the direction we want to move in, but what is at stake is just how soon we will make the transition to clean energy.

The Potomac Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH) is a proposed high-voltage transmission line intended to import coal fired power from the coal-rich Midwest and Appalachia into Maryland and other eastern states.

The line is proposed to begin near the John Amos power plant in West Virginia and terminate at a new substation in Frederick County. The Amos coal fired power plant ranks among the worst emitters of sulfur dioxide, mercury and global warming pollution in the nation.

And, as the proponents of PATH have themselves admitted, PATH would enable Amos and many other coal plants in the region to ramp up their operations to export electricity east. As these plants increase their output, they would spew even more of these harmful pollutants.

Quite the opposite of the serene scene described above.

Imagine, if PATH were built, what that would do to our chances of scaling up renewable energy production in Maryland. PATH is a multibillion dollar venture in the wrong direction. At a time when smart investors are looking toward clean energy, this investment will instead lock the region into dependence on coal-fired energy for years to come.

Maryland is doing its part in Annapolis to make clean renewable energy a reality.

With the passage of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act this year, the state must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020.

In order to meet these standards, we have to get serious about wind and solar. And yet, PATH would do just the opposite. Not only would PATH lead to increased generation from coal-fired power plants in the Midwest and Appalachia, it would also discourage the development of local, renewable generation here in Maryland.

Perhaps the worst part of the lies being used to sell this deal to consumers is the fear of blackouts, suggesting PATH must be built or else we won’t have electricity.

This is contradictory to Baltimore Gas and Electric, Maryland’s largest utility company. According to the company’s 10-year plan to the Public Service Commission of Maryland, they report no increase in peak demand, and in fact show a slight decrease over the next 10 years.

Where is the need for new coal-fired power? There isn’t one.

PATH is a scheme to rake in billions of dollars for its creators by giving them access to energy markets in Baltimore where electricity rates are four times higher than in West Virginia, all while rate payers would bear the cost of construction of the line.

PATH is not the passageway to the clean energy future, but rather, a dead end — more pollution, more asthma, and more global warming.

We can and must do better.

Alana Wase, College Park

The writer is Conservation Program Coordinator for the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club.

1 Comment »

  1. […] View post:  Down with PATH […]

    Pingback by Down with PATH | Asthma — July 20, 2009 @ 9:26 pm | Reply

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