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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! 

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.

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:

Public Hearings: Talking points, expert testimony & more

Action alert: Today is FAX THE PSC Day!

WV flag Fax The PSC Day

Speak up for West Virginia today (Thursday, Aug. 10) during our FAX THE PSC Day!

From 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, send a fax to the Public Service Commission of West Virginia and ask them to say NO to FirstEnergy Corp.'s bailout attempt with the proposed sale of the Pleasants Power Station near Parkersburg.

FirstEnergy, the Ohio-based parent company of Mon Power and Potomac Edison, has long hinted at plans to have Mon Power purchase the Pleasants power plant from another FirstEnergy subsidiary. The scheme, if successful, shifts the plant’s costs onto Mon Power and Potomac Edison’s West Virginia customers. FirstEnergy’s scheme is now moving forward. Mon Power is seeking approval from the PSC to buy Pleasants.

A similar transfer of ownership of the Harrison Power Plant in 2013 has cost Mon Power and Potomac Edison customers more than $160 million so far.

Don't have a fax machine at your fingertips? You do now! A feature on our website allows you to Fax to the PSC from your laptop or desktop computer. You'll find a pre-written letter that you can edit to add your own thoughts and points. 

After sending your fax, please share the Fax The PSC tool on Facebook and Twitter or forward this link to friends and neighbors: http://energyfreedomwv.org/take-action/

Click here to Fax The PSC today!

Already sent a fax? Thank you for speaking up for West Virginians. Got a question? Email Info@EnergyFreedomWV.org.



Letter-writing campaign asks PSC for multiple Public Hearing sites

Your voice is needed TODAY!

PSC case number for FirstEnergy Pleasants transfer

West Virginians For Energy Freedom launched its letter-writing campaign to request the Commissioners schedule at least three Public Hearings in the coverage areas impacted by this deal.

FirstEnergy, an Ohio-based utility, is seeking a bailout for its shareholders by transferring ownership of the Pleasants Power Station from one subsidiary to two other subsidiaries, Monongahela Power and Potomac Edison.

Our Public Hearings letter-writing campaign advocates that the PSC schedule at least three Public Hearings in both Mon Power and Potomac Edison service territories and not at the PSC's headquarters in Charleston. Public Hearings are expected to take place in August or early September. Click here for more information on that campaign.

We will continue to hold Community Conversations and speak to groups in Mon Power and Potomac Edison on why the proposed Pleasants plant transfer would hurt consumers in West Virginia but benefit FirstEnergy's shareholders. 

Save these dates: PSC sets case timeline

West Virginians For Energy Freedom PSC case number

The Public Service Commission (PSC) of West Virginia released its schedule of proceedings on FirstEnergy Corp.’s bad deal for West Virginians on the sale of the Pleasants power plant.

The PSC proceedings operate similar to a legal trial. FirstEnergy, West Virginians For Energy Freedom represented by WV SUN and WV Citizen Action Group, and other intervening parties will have an opportunity to submit testimony and evidence as well as cross-examine witnesses in case no. 17-0296-E-PC.

Key dates

AUG. 25: Direct testimony of other parties, including rebuttal testimony of other parties to companies’ direct testimony.

SEPT. 6: Last day to serve discovery requests.

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. 22: Agreed order of witnesses.

SEPT. 26-28: Evidentiary hearing.

OCT. 12: Initial briefs.

OCT. 19: Reply briefs.