Economic forecasts of weaker-than-expected demand for electricity in the Mid-Atlantic states prompted two utilities on Monday to suspend plans to build a $2 billion power line from West Virginia to Maryland.
American Electric Power's and FirstEnergy Corp.'s decision followed a request by PJM Interconnection _ which oversees the electric grid for a 13-state region _ to suspend work on the planned 765-kilowatt line.
To comply with PJM Interconnection, the utilities confirmed they would file notices with regulatory agencies in West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland to withdraw their construction applications for the project proposed in 2007.
The Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline, known as PATH, was originally envisioned to meet expectations of growing electricity demand in the region. Officials had predicted that the region would eventually suffer from brownouts and blackouts if such a line weren't built.
The project was initially to be completed by June 1, 2012. But owing to economic conditions, the timetable slipped to 2013 and then 2015, said Mike Kormos, PJM's senior vice president for operations.
Now the 275-mile project is on hold indefinitely, said Jeri Matheney, a spokeswoman for AEP subsidiary Appalachian Power. She said utilities also would suspend efforts to purchase land for the right of way.
The project initially called for extending the line from AEP's John Amos plant in West Virginia across three counties in northern Virginia to a substation near Kemptown, Md.
PJM's Kormos said it is too early to predict if the project would be revised.