Lewisburg resolution opposes FirstEnergy sale of Pleasants power plant

America_In_Bloom.jpg

On Tuesday (Nov. 28), Lewisburg Mayor John Manchester and the City Council passed a resolution opposing FirstEnergy's proposed sale of Pleasants power plant from one subsidiary to two other subsidiaries, Mon Power and Potomac Edison. Manchester and the council submitted the resolution to the Public Service Commission of West Virginia.

The Lewisburg resolution, like the City of Morgantown's earlier this fall, urges the PSC not to approve the deal without a thorough investigation of Mon Power’s actual capacity needs, the cast of other resource options, and the financial risks of purchasing another large, aging power plant. Click here to read the Lewisburg resolution.

Mayor Manchester was one of the first elected officials to join our coalition.

Op/Ed by Jeremy Richardson: Pleasants Power deal would stick WV ratepayers with uneconomic plant

West Virginia native Jeremy Richardson of the Union of Concerned Scientists wrote an Op/Ed commentary about the FirstEnergy/Pleasants power plant deal in The Charleston Gazette-Mail. 

Excerpt: There’s an old saying that goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

The West Virginia Public Service Commission will soon make a decision that reveals whether it has learned that lesson. If not, hardworking West Virginians are in danger of footing the bill.

At issue is FirstEnergy’s proposal to transfer ownership of one of its coal-fired power plants, the Pleasants Power Plant, from one of its subsidiaries to another. While that might not sound like a big deal, it turns out that, if approved, it could cost West Virginians dearly on their monthly electricity bills.

The current owner, Allegheny Energy Supply Co., is a merchant generator in an unregulated market — meaning that it must sell the power it generates to the competitive wholesale market and compete with other resources, like natural gas power plants, to earn profits. On the other hand, Mon Power and Potomac Edison Power, the proposed new owners, are in West Virginia’s regulated market — meaning they get a guaranteed rate of return on their assets — paid for by ratepayers.

If this sounds familiar to you, it should. FirstEnergy just did the same thing in 2013, when it transferred full ownership of the Harrison Power Plant over to Mon Power. At the time, utility executives claimed the plant was needed to meet future demand, and that it had the “potential to significantly reduce customer rates.”

How has that panned out?

Click here to read the rest of Richardson's commentary.

Let the commissioners and your lawmakers know that you oppose FirstEnergy's bad deal for West Virginia! 

News report: Timing of Pleasants Power Station transfer decision still unknown

In case you've been wondering when a decision might be coming in FirstEnergy's bad deal for West Virginia, Jim Ross of The State Journal has an update: 

CHARLESTON — The Public Service Commission of West Virginia has yet to decide whether to allow the transfer of ownership of the Pleasants Power Station, and it does not have a schedule for doing so.

“The parties have asked for a decision to be made in a timely manner, but there is no deadline,” PSC spokeswoman Karen Hall said recently, adding that there is no statutory deadline for a decision.

FirstEnergy Corp. subsidiaries Mon Power and Potomac Edison filed a request with the PSC on March 7 to purchase the coal-fired Pleasants Power Station at Willow Island from fellow FirstEnergy subsidiary Allegheny Energy Supply for $195 million.

Click here to read the full report.

We think no news is good news! You've still got time to protest FirstEnergy's latest attempt at a corporate bailout. Click here to visit TAKE ACTION page!

#NoWVBailoutForFirstEnergy

 

 

Action alert: Email your lawmakers and ask them to oppose FirstEnergy's bad deal

As the Public Service Commission weighs FirstEnergy's proposed sale of the Pleasants Power Station, there's another group of leaders who might be able to affect the decision.

Members of the West Virginia Senate and House of Representatives don't have a vote on the case but they do represent YOU! Ask your lawmakers to join the more than 2,500 people who have registered their opposition with the PSC.

Click here to send an email to the legislators who represent you in Charleston.

There's a pre-written email but we encourage you to edit the message to add your own concerns. Got a question or suggestion? Click here to send us an email.

Action Alert: Thank the CAD for standing up for ratepayers

Join us in recognizing the hard work of another intervenor in FirstEnergy Corp.'s bad deal for West Virginians before the Public Service Commission of West Virginia.

The Consumer Advocate Division, created by statute in 1981, is an independent division of the PSC that primarily advocates for residential customers. The CAD will almost always intervene in cases before the PSC for customers, striving to keep utility rates as low as possible.

In the FirstEnergy case, the CAD's witnesses submitted strong testimony to commissioners. Here are some highlights:

  • "The primary risks to ratepayers are the capacity is not needed and the costs are too high. These are the same risks FE shareholders no longer want to bear."
     
  • "The Mon Power and Potomac Edison Petition for approval of the acquisition filed in West Virginia Public Service Commission Case No. 17- 0296-E-PC itself states on page 6 that 'AE Supply will likely either sell Pleasants to another party or retire it... .' If retirement is the highest value option, Pleasants is not worth $150 per kW. In fact, AE Supply would be better off paying a third party to accept the Pleasants’ liability rather than to shutter it.”

Click here for to read the CAD’s full testimony.

Please take a moment to send a note to the CAD to thank them for their strong work on behalf of ratepayers! Remember: they are here for YOU!

Click here to send the CAD staff a "Thank You" fax.

Brief: Mon Power and Potomac Edison do not need to purchase a large power plant

Lawyers filed their initial briefs today (Thursday, Oct. 19) with the Public Service Commission of West Virginia in FirstEnergy Corp.’s proposed sale of the Pleasants Power Station from Allegheny Energy Supply (“AE Supply”) to Monongahela Power and Potomac Edison. All three companies are subsidiaries of FirstEnergy, which is based in Akron, Ohio.

Attorneys representing West Virginia Solar United Neighborhoods (WV SUN) and West Virginia Citizen Action Group (WV CAG), founding members of West Virginians For Energy Freedom are Emmett Pepper of WV CAG and Michael Soules of Earthjustice.

Highlights from the brief

  • Mon Power and Potomac Edison (the Companies) do not need to purchase a large power plant.
     
  • Although the Companies have tried to obscure it with a panoply of unsupported rationales, the record shows that the proposed transaction is being driven by FirstEnergy’s stated desire to reduce its exposure to market risks by shedding its merchant operations – at the expense of West Virginia customers.
     
  • If approved, the transaction would shift the costs and market risks of the Pleasants Power Station onto 530,000 West Virginia customers, while FirstEnergy – and its shareholders – enjoy full cost recovery and a steady rate of return on the plant’s regulated rate base.

Click here to read the full brief.

And FYI
According to PSC's website at 5 p.m. today, in Case #17-0296-E-PC, the number of letters from the public: 
Total In Protest:  2511
Total In Support:    51

Action alert! Join the protest against FirstEnergy's bailout attempt

More than 2,000 people have registered written protests with the PSC against the sale of Pleasants Power Station by FirstEnergy Corp. to two of its subsidiaries, Mon Power and Potomac Edison.

So far, protests outweigh support 40-to-1. Testimony in the PSC hearing on the deal resumes Tuesday, Oct. 10.

Before Oct. 10, let’s double that show of opposition! Ask ONE friend or family member to send a Fax to the PSC or sign our petition at EnergyFreedomWV.org/take-action.

Need inspiration? More than 100 West Virginia residents testified at the PSC's Public Hearings in Parkersburg, Martinsburg and Morgantown. Of those, 71 spoke out against FirstEnergy's bid for corporate welfare. Read the transcripts:

Evidentiary hearing: Witnesses detail how bad FirstEnergy deal could be for WV

hearing_collage.png

In the first week of the evidentiary hearing on FirstEnergy Corp.’s bailout attempt before the Public Service Commission of West Virginia, witness after witness didn’t support the Ohio-based company’s claims of capacity and savings for Mon Power and Potomac Edison ratepayers.

On Sept. 26, neither of FirstEnergy’s witnesses submitted testimony before the hearing that the plant would definitely close, and neither witness would say it on the stand when asked under oath during the hearing. FirstEnergy's own experts contradict the doom-and-gloom message that the utility company is peddling.

Bradley Eberts, a witness for FirstEnergy on Sept. 27, says that even based on his projections, Mon Power and Potomac Edison will have a surplus of energy for every hour until 2021, except 3 hours in 2020 and 24 hours in 2021. And that's all WITHOUT buying the Pleasants plant.

Stephen Gabel testifying on behalf of Longview Power, an intervening party, on Sept. 28: “(Mon Power) overestimated their need by many hundreds of megawatts… The whole premise of this case is that they need capacity. They don't need capacity."

Also on Sept. 28, WV Consumer Advocate Division's witness Emily Medine when asked if Pleasants’ closure would break her heart: “Yes. But that doesn't mean a regulated utility should own that plant... I just joined the National Coal Council and I'm very supportive of coal ... That doesn't mean a regulated utility needs to be the owner of that plant."

Wrapping up scheduled testimony on Sept. 29, PSC Utilities Division Director Terry Eads, who is historically pro-utility, said he is concerned that if the energy prices aren't as high as FirstEnergy forecasts, then it isn't as good of a deal. Eads, however, says he is mostly worried about what he called "externalities." Example: How PJM deals with subsidies in other states for nuclear power plants and the potential of carbon pricing.

He closed by saying that if it is a good deal the companies should be willing to bear some of the risk.

Testimony in the evidentiary hearing resumes Oct. 10.

Evidentiary hearing: Day 3 recap

On Thursday, Sept. 28, the parties finished cross-examining FirstEnergy Corp.’s final two witnesses at the PSC in Charleston. Then the Ohio-based utility company’s legal team started cross-examining the intervenor witnesses.  

BIG TAKEAWAYS... Witnesses for the intervenors honed in on the same three themes:

  1. Mon Power and Potomac Edison does NOT need to purchase capacity
  2. The request for proposals issued for capacity was unreasonably narrow
  3. MP/PE’s economic analysis was biased in favor of Pleasants.
WV4EF_gabel.jpg
They overestimated their need by many hundreds of megawatts.
— STEPHEN GABEL, a witness testifying Thursday on behalf of Longview Power

HISTORY SAYS OTHERWISE: While FirstEnergy’s attorney attempted to undermine the credibility of opposing witnesses, it was hard to ignore that MP/PE’s economic analysis predicting future revenues and operating performance for Pleasants is wildly out-of-line with the plant's history for the last 10 years.

'THEY DON'T NEED CAPACITY': Stephen Gabel, testifying on behalf of Longview Power, cut to the core of the case when he pointed out that -- rather than focusing on which plant MP/PE should buy -- the Commission should question whether the West Virginia-based FirstEnergy subsidiaries need any capacity at all. “They overestimated their need by many hundreds of megawatts,” he testified. “The whole premise of this case is that they need capacity. They don't need capacity.”

EmilyMedine screen grab2.png

POTENTIAL $$$$$$$$ LIABILITY IGNORED: The WV Consumer Advocate Division's witness Emily Medine, testifying on behalf of residential customers, questioned why MP/PE agreed to purchase the McElroy's Run coal waste impoundment, along with Pleasants. She testified she finds it very suspect that MP/PE didn't investigate the potential liability and risks associated with the storage site. She pointed out that the EPA classifies McElroy’s Run as "high hazard," meaning the failure of the impoundment would likely result in loss of life. The “high hazard” designation also makes it a potentially expensive liability that Mon Power and Potomac Edison customers would have to cover if disaster strikes.

I AM A FRIEND OF COAL BUT…: U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry recently appointed Medine to the National Coal Council. FirstEnergy's attorney asked if Pleasants’ closure would break her heart. “Yes. But that doesn't mean a regulated utility should own that plant,” she said. When pressed, she responded: “I just joined the National Coal Council and I'm very supportive of coal ... That doesn't mean a regulated utility needs to be the owner of that plant.”

FRIDAY, SEPT. 29: Last day of scheduled testimony… until Oct. 10, when David Schlissel, representing WV SUN and WV Citizen Action Group, will be cross-examined, along with three other witnesses who aren't going to be able to appear tomorrow.

WATCH IT LIVE: The PSC streams the hearing online. Click here to watch. You'll need Internet Explorer 6.0 and Windows Media Player. The hearings are not archived but a transcript will be entered in the docket in a few weeks.

Evidentiary Hearing: Day 2 recap

WV4EF FirstEnergy evidentiary hearing Public Service Commission West Virginia

FirstEnergy Corp. witnesses experienced another LONG day of cross-examining at the PSC. Commissioners are hearing testimony in the Ohio-based company's bailout attempt from West Virginia ratepayers. Much of the questioning focused on Mon Power's load forecast and the alleged need for the Pleasants plant, as well as the questioning of Mon Power's technical witnesses regarding the physical condition of the plant.

SURPLUS ENERGY UNTIL 2021 EXCEPT FOR 27 HOURS: FirstEnergy witness Bradley Eberts admitted that even based on his projections, Mon Power and Potomac Edison will have a surplus of energy for every hour until 2021, except 3 hours in 2020 and 24 hours in 2021. In other words, between 2018 and 2021, only 0.077% of the time will Mon Power and Potomac Edison need more energy. And that's all WITHOUT buying the Pleasants plant!

GROUNDWATER CONTAMINATION? NITROGEN OXIDES EMISSIONS? Kurt Leutheuser, who testified on the soundness of the plant including environmental risks, appeared to have no knowledge of groundwater contamination or existing lawsuits about Pleasants nitrogen oxides emissions.

INDUSTRY IMPACT: Mike Messer, chairman of West Virginia Energy Users Group (a coalition of large industrial customers), testified Linde LLC (his company) faces higher electricity costs in West Virginia than its competitors do in nearby states like Pennsylvania and Ohio. Messer expressed his concern that the Pleasants purchase would drive up rates even further.

TODAY: Possibly the last scheduled day of the hearing. Expect testimony from the intervenors except for David Schlissel, representing WV SUN and WV Citizen Action Group. Due to health concerns, Schlissel's testimony is rescheduled for the week of Oct. 9.

WATCH IT LIVE: The PSC streams the hearings online. Watch hereThe hearings, however, are not archived.

 There's still time to get involved