Analysis: FirstEnergy deal may cause spike in electric bills for schools, hospitals, and manufacturers

Schools, hospitals, and manufacturers in West Virginia could expect Mon Power and Potomac Edison electric bills to increase more than $230 million over the next 15 years if the FirstEnergy Corp.’s plan to transfer ownership of Pleasants Power Station near Parkersburg is approved, according to analysis briefs.

The Public Service Commission of West Virginia is currently weighing whether to approve the deal between the FirstEnergy subsidiaries. If approved by the PSC, Mon Power and Potomac Edison customers in West Virginia will pay for the operation and upkeep of Pleasants power plant.

Solar United Neighborhoods of West Virginia, one of the parties intervening in the case before the PSC, contracted consultants RunnerStone, LLC to provide estimated impacts of the FirstEnergy deal for schools (primary, secondary and colleges and universities), inpatient and outpatient hospitals, and manufacturers.

The $230 million cited in RunnerStone’s briefs is more than half of the nearly $470 million that an analyst cited to PSC on the potential cost of the FirstEnergy deal to consumers.

“The briefs provide eye-opening context to the potential price we’ll have to pay for FirstEnergy’s bad deal for West Virginians,” said Karan Ireland, campaign director for Solar United Neighborhoods of West Virginia.

Here’s the breakdown of the possible impact for the next 15 years, based on RunnerStone’s analysis:

  • Manufacturers could face an increase of $181 million. A medium-size manufacturing facility spending around $600,00 annually would pay about $234,000 in added costs; a large manufacturing facility could pay an additional $3.1 million. Click here to read the full brief on manufacturing.
  • 53% of WV schools are served by Mon Power and Potomac Edison and could pay $42.8 million more on electric bills. A district with three elementary schools would pay about $235,000. The Morgan County school district, for example, would fall into this category. Click here to read the full brief on schools and universities.
  • Hospitals — many in rural areas already struggling to keep doors open — may see around $7.5 million increase in energy budgets. A 425,500-square-foot inpatient hospital would pay about $450,000 in added costs. For comparison, Ruby Memorial Hospital at West Virginia University is a 500,000-square-foot building. Click here to read the full brief on healthcare.

“Not only are you hitting folks in the wallet at their homes, the FirstEnergy deal could affect the budgets of where they work, where their kids go to school, and the hospitals that serve their families,” said Ireland. “All of this because an Ohio-based corporation wants to move ownership of a plant to benefit its shareholders and its bottom line.”

West Virginians For Energy Freedom is a coalition of economic and ratepayer advocacy groups, faith-based organizations, businesses, and elected officials who oppose FirstEnergy’s bailout attempt. Since January, the coalition has been raising awareness about FirstEnergy’s bad deal for Mon Power and Potomac Edison customers.

Updates: Op/Ed in The Parkersburg News and Sentinel; hearing details

No Bailout For FirstEnergy Red

William Ambrose of Parkersburg delivered a strong Op/Ed in Sunday's issue of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel against FirstEnergy Corp.'s corporate bailout attempt with the Pleasants power plant deal before the PSC. Ambrose is a retired surveyor and founding member of Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action, a member of West Virginians For Energy Freedom coalition. Below are a few excerpts from his excellent piece on FirstEnergy's bad deal for West Virginians. Click here to read the full commentary and leave a comment if you're so inclined (Tip: If the Google survey pops up, scroll to the bottom of it and click "Skip survey").

"FirstEnergy’s rationale for the sale is a bunch of high-minded double talk about how it will benefit energy consumers. Once you understand the issues, however, it becomes clear it is actually a cynical ploy to bail out a non-competitive drag on their portfolio with a hefty subsidy forced onto their customers."


"FirstEnergy knows its cost saving argument can’t withstand scrutiny. They’re hoping the PSC will swallow their assertion that they’re in the beginning of a capacity shortfall that will peak in 2027 and require Pleasants to shore it up."


"FirstEnergy is hoping this sale gets connected to “war on coal “ hysteria in enough people’s minds to obscure what’s really happening: A shameless, predatory corporate bailout."


Click here to read a pithy Letter To The Editor that also published in Sunday's News and Sentinel.

Join us Wednesday at the PSC Public Hearing in Parkersburg. West Virginians For Energy Freedom is holding a pre-rally hearing at 5:30 p.m. outside the Parkersburg Municipal Building. Click here for more information on the rally and the hearing. 

Wear dark blue to demonstrate your opposition to FirstEnergy's bailout attempt. Stop by our table for a "No WV Bailout sticker," talking points and more. Got a question? Click here to email us.

Public Hearings: Talking points, expert testimony & more

INSIDE BASEBALL: Updates, insights from cases against FirstEnergy’s bad deal for West Virginians

FirstEnergy PSC Case # West Virginians For Energy Freedom

In the coming months under the heading of “Inside Baseball,” we’ll be sharing updates and insights from the FirstEnergy cases before the Public Service Commission of West Virginia (PSC) and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). We’re calling it “Inside Baseball” since many twists and turns in the processes may not make headlines but it is information worth noting. Got a question about the cases or the process? Click here to let us know!

  • The PSC recently ruled that the parties, including the Consumer Advocate Division and intervenors such as WV SUN and WV Citizen Action Group (CAG), will not be allowed to ask discovery questions about Mon Power's second round of testimony to get more information about the assumptions underlying its testimony. We are concerned about this ruling, because discovery is needed to get all the information on the table. We, together with most other parties in the case, asked the PSC to reconsider this order, but the PSC refused. Unfortunately, this order will limit access to information that could aid the PSC in making its decision.
  • Energy companies including Longview, ESC Brooke County Power, and ESC Harrison County Power also intervened in the PSC case. 
  • The PSC has established a schedule for this case for WV SUN and CAG — and other parties opposed to FirstEnergy's scheme —  to file testimony in late August. Mon Power and Potomac Edison will have a chance to respond with additional testimony in mid-September.