State Journal - Public interest groups are organizing resistance to a rumored sale of an aging West Virginia coal-fired power plant to Monongahela Power and its sister agency, Potomac Edison.
Mon Power had issued a request for preliminary expressions of interest in mid-December for 1,300 megawatts of additional generating capacity, and gave companies that passed its pre-qualification test until Feb. 3 to submit a formal proposal.
With that deadline just days away, a coalition of economic and ratepayer advocacy groups, faith-based organizations, businesses and elected officials have launched West Virginians For Energy Freedom — a coalition aimed at stopping FirstEnergy Corp. from shoring up the solvency of one of its subsidiaries in Ohio's de-regulated energy market at the expense of its West Virginia customer base.
The watchdog groups contend FirstEnergy officials made it clear they want to sell the Pleasants power plant near Willow Island, owned by Allegheny Energy Supply in Ohio, to its sister company, Mon Power. A sale "would shift the plant’s costs onto Mon Power and Potomac Edison’s West Virginia customers," the groups said in a news release. West Virginia's energy market is still regulated, ensuring investors would see a return on their investment.
"FirstEnergy’s scheme is now moving forward, and later this year Mon Power is expected to seek approval from the Public Service Commission of West Virginia (PSC) to buy Pleasants," the groups said in the release.
On Jan. 31, West Virginians For Energy Freedom delivered a seven-page letter to the WV Public Service Commission expressing its members' concern, saying Mon Power's recent RFP to purchase 1,300 megawatts of additional generating capacity is "skewed" to favor the Pleasant's plant. The group described the RFP as a "veiled attempt to justify the selection of a coal generating station ... that will shift the risk from FirstEnergy Corp's merchant subsidiary to West Virginia ratepayers."
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Members of West Virginians For Energy Freedom include: Energy Efficient West Virginia; American Friends Service Committee — West Virginia; Solar Holler; West Virginia Alliance for Sustainable Families; West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy; West Virginia Citizen Action Group; West Virginia Council of Churches; WV Healthy Kids & Families Coalition; WV SUN; Lewisburg Mayor John Manchester; and Morgantown Deputy Mayor William A. Kawecki.
West Virginians For Energy Freedom plans to mobilize West Virginia residents, organizations and businesses; conduct email/postcard/social media campaigns; and organize rallies to block any attempt by Mon Power to purchase the Pleasants plant.
The group said people or organizations interested in getting involved should visit EnergyFreedomWV.org to sign a petition.