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.
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.”

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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.