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W.Va. regulators reject motion for hearing on FirstEnergy utilities' IRP

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W.Va. regulators reject motion for hearing on FirstEnergy utilities' IRP

WestVirginia regulators granted several petitions to intervene in proceedings on theintegrated resource plan for FirstEnergyCorp.'s utilities, but rejected the Sierra Club's motion for a publichearing on the case.

The SierraClub argued that a public hearing "would facilitate stakeholder participationin the utility planning process" and help the commission determine whetherthe IRP submitted by Monongahela PowerCo. and Potomac EdisonCo. meets state requirements. The utilities argued that the IRP is "aninformational filing" and state law does not call for a hearing on the matter.

The PublicService Commission of West Virginia in an April 22 order denied the Sierra Club'smotion "without prejudice" but required the companies to file a motionfor protective treatment of information they wish to keep confidential "orthe information will be made public." The utilities April 26 filed the requiredmotion for protective order.

The PSC,in its order, noted that written comments on the IRP will be received until April28 and regulators will then review the filings to determine the need for furtherproceedings in the case.

Mon Power,which supplies the generation needs for Potomac Edison's West Virginia service territory,predicted a capacity shortfallof more than 850 MW by 2027 and said that purchasing existing generation facilitiesor co-firing its coal plants with gas are likely the best options to meet this need.(Case No. 15-2002-E-IRP)

The IRPnotes that Mon Power should acquire the additional capacity resources by the 2017/2018delivery year when the capacity shortfall begins to climb.

The utilitieswrote that the option of buying existing facilities, assumed to be a coal plant,"appears to be the lowest cost solution" at approximately $57/MWh.

The staffof the PSC has been skepticalof the plan to buy an existing coal plant and/or retrofit coal units to co-firewith natural gas in order to meet the U.S. EPA's environmental regulations.