Update

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."

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"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."

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"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."

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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

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.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE TESTIMONY IN THE PUBLIC DOCKET.

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.

PSC receives nearly 1,000 petitions against FirstEnergy’s Pleasants plan

The Energy Freedom Fighter, who stands up for West Virginians and battles corporate welfare, is making a special delivery to the PSC!

Posted by West Virginians For Energy Freedom on Tuesday, August 15, 2017

On Tuesday, Aug. 15, West Virginians For Energy Freedom members – along with a new superhero – delivered to the Public Service Commission of West Virginia nearly 1,000 petitions protesting FirstEnergy Corp.’s Pleasants Power Station sale.

The delivery was made to the PSC office in Charleston. Watch the Facebook Live video at right.

FirstEnergy, the Ohio-based parent company of Mon Power and Potomac Edison, seeks to transfer the Pleasants Plant to its Mon Power subsidiary from another FirstEnergy subsidiary. If approved by the PSC, costs will be passed on to Mon Power and Potomac Edison's West Virginia customers.

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.

The Energy Freedom Fighter, a superhero who stands up for West Virginians against out-of-state utility companies, presented petitions along with WV4EFcoalition members. The caped, masked crusader chose to remain silent during the delivery. “The signatures of hundreds and hundreds of West Virginians speaks volumes about opposition to the proposed sale,” said Karan Ireland, program director for WV Solar United Neighborhoods (WV SUN), a founding member of the coalition.

“West Virginians For Energy Freedom want to make sure Chairman Mike Albert and Commissioners Brooks McCabe and Renee Larrick are aware of the number of people who do not support FirstEnergy’s tactics,” said Ireland.

On March 15, WV SUN and West Virginia Citizen Action Group (WVCAG) filed a motion to intervene with the PSC over FirstEnergy’s proposed sale of the Pleasants plant. In early May, the groups also filed a protest against FirstEnergy with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The Federal Power Act prohibits such transfers if they would result in a public utility inappropriately cross-subsidizing a corporate affiliate.

“The proposed Pleasants sale is purely a business maneuver to transfer ownership from a deregulated state like Ohio to a regulated state,” said Emmett Pepper, executive director of Energy Efficiency West Virginia, another founding member of the coalition. “And it’s a bad deal for consumers that is familiar to Mon Power and Potomac Edison consumers.”

In 2013, WV Public Service Commissioners Albert and Jon McKinney, approved FirstEnergy’s transfer of ownership of the Harrison power plant in Haywood to Mon Power. Commissioner Ryan Palmer was the lone vote against that transfer.

The Harrison sale has cost Mon Power and Potomac Edison customers more than $160 million, so far, according to industry analysts. “That FirstEnergy deal is fresh in people’s minds since they see it every month when they go to pay their power bill,” Pepper said.

Another part of West Virginians For Energy Freedom's mission is to give people tools to engage and have a voice in what happens to their money.

Along with the petition drive and a letter-writing campaign on the public hearing sites, the coalition added a Fax the PSC tool to its website (EnergyFreedomWV.org) to make it easy for people to send in comments for the public docket.

The fax machine is one of the four ways the PSC accepts public comments on a case. The Fax the PSC tool allows people to send a fax from their laptops and phones. "People tell us it's more convenient than navigating the PSC website to send an email and takes less time than mailing a letter,” Pepper said.

During the coalition’s first #FaxThePSC Day campaign Aug. 10, the PSC received 40 faxes protesting FirstEnergy.

Commissioners will hear from consumers at the PSC’s public hearings in Parkersburg on Sept. 6, Martinsburg, Sept. 11 and Morgantown, Sept. 12. “We want to pack the chambers so commissioners will hear and see the people who will be most affected by FirstEnergy’s bad deal,” said Ireland. West Virginians For Energy Freedom will hold rallies before the hearings.

And you can keep an eye out the Energy Freedom Fighter around the Mountain State. The consumer crusader will be at events, fairs, and festivals to raise awareness about the public hearings and get more signatures for the petitions.

West Virginia Solar Congress to focus on FirstEnergy bailout, energy freedom in three sessions

SPECIAL HOTEL
DISCOUNT OFFER

If you are interested in staying overnight in Moorefield, the South Branch Inn -- a West Virginians For Energy Freedom coalition member -- is offering a special discount rate. Call (304) 538-2033 to reserve a room. Be sure to mention the Solar Congress.

The second annual West Virginia Solar Congress on Saturday, June 24, 2017, will focus on two major topic areas: creating energy freedom in West Virginia with the campaign against FirstEnergy and energy basics for the home and farm.  

Mon Power and Potomac Edison customers, along with farmers and other business owners, are encouraged to attend. The event is free and open to the public. Breakfast refreshments and lunch will be provided.

West Virginia Solar Congress: Envisioning a future of energy freedom for West Virginia

Saturday, June 24
10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Eastern WV Community & Technical College
316 Eastern Drive, Moorefield, WV 26836

SCHEDULE

 10 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.: Registration, coffee, breakfast 

10:30 a.m. – 10:50 a.m.: Opening Remarks
Karan Ireland & Autumn Long, WV SUN
Dr. Charles Terrell, Eastern WV Community & Technical College

11 a.m. – 11:50 a.m.: Workshops – Session 1

  • The FirstEnergy Bailout: What Does the Pleasants Transfer Mean for Mon Power and Potomac Energy Customers?
    Karan Ireland, WV SUN
    Pamela Ellis, WV Sierra Club
  • Solar 101 & Energy Efficiency 101 – At Home and on the Farm: Introduction to solar PV technology, policy, and financing
    Autumn Long, WV SUN
  • Cost-effective energy efficiency solutions and how to pay for them
    Xavier Walter, Energy Efficient West Virginia  

12 p.m. – 12:50 p.m.: Lunch, networking
 
1 - 1:50 p.m.: Workshops – Session 2

  • The Public Service Commission of West Virginia, a Closer Look: Who they are, what they do, and how to get involved
    Cathy Kunkel, Kunkel Energy Research 
  • Renewable Energy and Efficiency Upgrades for Farms and Small Businesses: Energy improvements, energy audits, grant and rebate programs, and financing
    Hannah Varguson, The Conservation Fund’s Natural Capital Investment Fund 

2 p.m. – 2:50 p.m.: Workshops – Session 3

  • The FirstEnergy Bailout, How You Can Fight the Pleasants Transfer: Volunteer training and opportunities
    Karan Ireland, WV SUN
    Emmett Pepper, Energy Efficient West Virginia
  • Gazing into the Crystal Ball: A Panel Discussion on the Future of Battery Storage
    Colin Williams, Mountain View Solar
    Doyle Tenney, DT Solar

3 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.: Participatory Open Forum Discussion
Moderated by Karan Ireland, WV SUN

3:45 p.m. – 3:50 p.m. : Closing Remarks
Pamela Ellis, West Virginia Sierra Club

PSC sets public hearings in Parkersburg, Martinsburg and Morgantown

Thank You PSC listened public hearings WV4EF

Give yourselves a big pat on the back! The Public Service Commission of West Virginia cited your letters and comments in its decision to schedule the public hearings on FirstEnergy Corp.’s proposed transfer of the Pleasants power plant to Monongahela Power and Potomac Edison.

You asked commissioners to schedule public hearings in MonPower and Potomac Edison’s service territories. And they listened. Here are the locations and dates to make public comments on FirstEnergy’s bad deal for West Virginians:

PARKERSBURG: Sept. 6, 2017, 6 p.m., Municipal Building, Council Chambers, 3rd and Avery streets.

MARTINSBURG: Sept. 11, 2017, 7 p.m., City Building, Municipal Courtroom, 232 North Queen St., 1st Floor.

MORGANTOWN: Sept. 12, 2017, 6 p.m., Monongalia County Judicial Center, Judge Tucker's Courtroom. 75 High St., 3rd Floor.

In addition to the hearings, you can submit public comment in writing:
Ingrid Ferrell, Executive Secretary
P.O. Box 812
Charleston, WV 25323

All written comments should be marked with Case No. 17-0296-E-PC.

Public comment may also be made on line at http://www.psc.state.wv.us by clicking on submit a comment in the left column and following the directions provided.

PRESS COVERAGE: "Public comment hearings set for Pleasants Power Station deal" by Max Garland of Charleston Gazette-Mail

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.

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.
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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: