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Gov. Joe Manchin. D-W.Va., plans to introduce legislation that would ensure West Virginians receive direct benefits from the construction and operation of a 500 kV electric transmission line that was recently approved by the West Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC).

The PSC approved the certificate requested by the Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line Co. (TrAIL), an Allegheny Energy subsidiary, to construct a line that would run through portions of Grant, Hardy, Hampshire, Marion, Monongalia, Preston, Taylor and Tucker counties.

"If the TrAIL line gets through its other required regulatory approvals and moves forward, we want to have laws in place so that the West Virginians and communities that are affected receive benefits in exchange," Manchin says. "I want to make it clear now - regardless of if and when the transmission line moves forward - that we are putting the requirements on paper so that it is clear what our communities and citizens will receive."

While the PSC's approval includes several conditions, including payment for portions of electric bills for directly affected property owners, creation of jobs and construction of a new office in West Virginia, the governor would like to see the following requirements codified:

- rate reductions for West Virginia's citizens,

- extra revenue for the counties that house the line, and

- extra revenue for the state to provide associated services to consumers.

The governor says Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin and House Speaker Rick Thompson will join the governor in proposing the effort.

"I intend to work collaboratively with Governor Manchin and the Legislature in support of the Governor's proposals to ensure that our customers and the state will benefit from the construction of the line," says Paul Evanson, president and CEO of Allegheny Energy. "The completion of this project can and should be of great benefit to all parties."

Previously, a hearing examiner in Virginia recommended that regulators in that state authorize construction of the Virginia segments of the new line, subject to approvals in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. According to Allegheny Energy, pre-construction work will continue on the new line, including right-of-way acquisition, permitting and engineering activities. The construction phase will last about two-and-a-half years.

SOURCE: Office of Governor Joe Manchin, Allegheny Energy Inc.


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