Official filings

Lewisburg resolution opposes FirstEnergy sale of Pleasants power plant


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.

FirstEnergy’s proposed Pleasants sale likely to cost WV ratepayers more than $400 million through 2032, expert says

Unless FirstEnergy Corp. agrees to bear the risks for losses, the Public Service Commission of West Virginia should reject the utility monopoly’s proposed sale of the Pleasants Power Station to FirstEnergy subsidiaries Monongahela Power and Potomac Edison, said David A. Schlissel, president of Schlissel Technical Consulting, in expert testimony submitted Friday, Aug. 25, 2017.


Schlissel’s research concludes if the FirstEnergy subsidiaries acquire Pleasants, the purchase will likely cost ratepayers more than $400 million through 2032.

Mon Power and Potomac Edison’s analysis is driven by the extremely optimistic, unreasonable assumption that the future of energy market prices and production will be very different from the recent past, he testified.

Schlissel provided expert testimony on behalf of WV SUN and West Virginia Citizen Action Group, members of the West Virginians For Energy Freedom coalition.

The PSC’s proceedings are similar to a legal trial. Today, Aug. 25, is the deadline for WV SUN, WVCAG, and other intervening parties to submit testimony. There will be a hearing in late September at which witnesses will be cross-examined. Commissioners are expected to decide the case in mid-October.

“We are eager to share Schlissel’s findings and testimony with the consumers who will have to foot the bill for FirstEnergy’s corporate welfare if PSC Chairman Mike Albert and Commissioners Brooks McCabe and Renee Larrick approve the deal,” said Emmett Pepper, executive director of Energy Efficient West Virginia.

For nearly 45 years, Schlissel has served as a consultant, expert witness, and attorney on engineering and economic issues in the fields of energy and the environment.

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.

Other intervening parties include the Consumer Advocate Division of the PSC, the West Virginia Energy Users Group, Longview Power (owner of the Longview coal-fired power plant), the Sierra Club, Harrison County Power and Brooke County Power (owners of two planned natural gas-fired power plants).

Key conclusions from Schlissel’s expert testimony

  • Mon Power and Potomac Edison’s estimate of the economic impact of the purchase on ratepayers is flawed. Mon Power and Potomac Edison’s analysis is driven by the extremely optimistic, unreasonable assumption that the future will be very different (and much more favorable to the economics of coal-fired generation) than the recent past. If their assumptions were realistic, FirstEnergy subsidiary Allegheny Energy Supply wouldn’t be trying to sell the plant.
  • The proposed purchase of Pleasants would likely cost ratepayers over $400 million over the next 15 years. That is because the revenues that will be earned from selling Pleasants’ electricity on the regional electricity market will not be sufficient to cover the costs of owning and operating Pleasants, including a profit to FirstEnergy.
  • Mon Power and Potomac Edison do not need to buy another power plant. The companies have used a methodology that overstates their purported capacity shortfall by over 400 MW (more than a third of their alleged 2027 shortfall). There are only a few peak hours out of the year when customer demand is projected to exceed the amount of energy that can be produced at Mon Power’s plants, and Mon Power and Potomac Edison could rely on market purchases during those hours.
  • If Mon Power and Potomac Edison acquire Pleasants, they will generate 45% to 78% more electricity than their customers actually need over the next 15 years. This will leave customers exposed to the risk the companies will not be able to profitably sell this surplus energy on the market.
  • Schlissel recommends that the Public Service Commission reject the proposed transaction. If the Commission decides to approve the transaction, FirstEnergy – not Mon Power and Potomac Edison customers – should be required to bear the risk that the Pleasants acquisition turns out to be unprofitable.


Next steps in the PSC case: Public Hearings

The next major deadline is Sept. 6, the last day to serve discovery requests. Also on Sept. 6, the PSC will be in Parkersburg the first of three Public Comment Hearings around the state. West Virginians For Energy Freedom will host a pre-hearing rally outside the Parkersburg Municipal Building.

Public Hearings and pre-hearing rallies will be held Sept. 11 in Martinsburg and Sept. 12 in Morgantown. Click here for more information on the hearings and rallies.

“It is critical for Mon Power and Potomac Edison consumers to attend or speak at the Public Hearings so commissioners and FirstEnergy know that West Virginians are tired of out-of-state corporations pillaging the Mountain State,” said Karan Ireland, program director for WV SUN.

More key dates
Sept 18: Rebuttal testimony of companies to the direct testimony of other parties and rebuttal testimony of other parties to the direct testimony filed on Aug. 25, with work papers.
Sept. 26-28: Evidentiary hearing.
Oct. 12: Initial briefs.
Oct 19: Reply briefs.

UPDATED: Protest filed with FERC on FirstEnergy's plan for Pleasants plant

This post was updated May 22, 2017, to include media reports about the FERC filing. The links are at the end.

On May 8, WV SUN and West Virginia Citizen Action Group filed a Protest with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) challenging FirstEnergy Corp.’s proposal to transfer the aging Pleasants coal plant to Monongahela Power, one of FirstEnergy’s regulated utilities in West Virginia.  

The Federal Power Act prohibits such transfers if they would result in a public utility inappropriately cross-subsidizing a corporate affiliate. In our Protest, we explained that this proposal is being driven by FirstEnergy’s desire to offload the Pleasants plant’s financial risks onto Mon Power and Potomac Edison’s customers while guaranteeing a steady revenue stream for FirstEnergy and its shareholders.  

We also explained that FirstEnergy’s rationale for its proposal is misleading and that the request for proposals (RFP) that the Mon Power issued in December 2016 was heavily biased for Pleasants. 
Click here to view WV SUN and Citizen Action Group’s Protest.
Protests were also filed by Consumer Advocate Division of the West Virginia PSC, the Electric Power Supply Association and PJM Power Providers Group, and the owner of the Longview power plant.

Below are media reports on the FERC filing: