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Groups push to prevent FirstEnergy from putting W.Va. coal plant into rates


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Groups push to prevent FirstEnergy from putting W.Va. coal plant into rates

Although no formal request has been submitted, groups arelining up in opposition to the possibility that will seek to putinto its rate base another West Virginia coal plant.

The groups, representing different West Virginia communitiesand consumer interests, wrote a letter Sept. 22 to the Public ServiceCommission of West Virginia urging regulators to require to issue arequest for proposals, or RFP, before acquiring additional baseload generation.The staff and Consumer Advocate Division of the PSC originally requested theRFP.

Mon Power, in its integrated resource plan filed in late2015, predicted acapacity shortfall of more than 850 MW by 2027 and said that purchasingexisting generation facilities or co-firing its coal plants with gas are likelythe best options to meet this need. (Case No. 15-2002-E-P)

FirstEnergy Executive Vice President and CFO James Pearsonsaid earlier inSeptember that the company was working with the commission on addressing theexpected generation shortfall by potentiallymoving the 1,300-MW Pleasantscoal plant into a regulated framework.

"We've been here before," the groups, includingseveral state elected officials, regulatory watchdogs and solar advocates,wrote in their letter to the three-member commission.

The groups pointed to a "ratepayer bailout" tiedto the 2013 transfer of the 1,984-MW Harrison coal plant between FirstEnergy affiliates. WestVirginia regulators approved asettlement under which Mon Power acquired a 79.46% ownershipinterest in the Harrison Power Station from Allegheny Energy Supply Co., a corporateaffiliate.

The groups contend Mon Power is not living up to its promisemade as part of the deal to bid for power generation to meet future significantcapacity needs.

"West Virginia residents are counting on you to do theright thing," the letter states. "Make Mon Power bid out itselectricity needs so that we can get the lowest price for our electricity. It'sthe right thing to do and makes good common sense."

The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis,or IEEFA, published a study earlier in September that West Virginia's ratepayers,not company shareholders, will bear the costs if FirstEnergy is allowed totransfer the Pleasants coal plant into regulated rate base.

A FirstEnergy spokesman said the company believes theHarrison transaction has "certainly" benefited the company's WestVirginia customers.

Lawyers for the Independent Oil and Gas Association of WestVirginia Inc. also sent a letter to state regulators in support of an open,competitive RFP process and urged the commission to "adopt practices andpolicies which give the natural gas industry an opportunity to compete andparticipate in electricity generation opportunities going forward."