UPDATE: Utilities call off planned sale of Pleasants Power Station
02/06/18 9:40 A.M.
Two utilities have decided not to proceed with a long-debated deal that would have resulted in the sale of the Pleasants Power Station, the area's largest remaining coal-fired power plant.
Allegheny Energy Supply Company owns the plant and had planned to sell it to Monongahela Power Company and The Potomac Edison Company.
All three companies are subsidiaries of First Energy.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected the sale on Jan. 12, and the companies have decided not to seek a re-hearing of that ruling.
The PSC approved the sale on Jan. 26, but did so with provisions requiring limits on the costs to utility customers, and on costs if the plant is closed earlier than planned.
In a letter to the West Virginia Public Service Commission, Mon Power Potomac Edison said they will not "accept the conditions included in the Commission Order that would result in Mon Power assuming exposure and significant commodity risk, which is inconsistent with First Energy's announced corporate strategy."
We'll have more on this developing story online and on WTAP News @ 5 and 6.
1/26/2018 5:00 P.M.
The West Virginia Public Service Commission has given its approval to the proposed sale of the Pleasants Power Station.
It did so with provisions requiring limits on the costs to utility customers, and on costs of the plant is closed earlier than planned.
In early January, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected the sale of the plant by First Energy to its subsidiaries, Mon Power and Potomac Edison.
The PSC noted First Energy could still petition the FERC to reconsider its decision.
Jody Murphy, the Executive Director of Pleasants Area Chamber of Commerce made a statement Friday evening on the approval. "Obviously, we are pleased the WVPSC approved the proposed transfer, however the decision does not override federal authority and FERC’s rejection of the deal. This is one, positive step, but more needs to be done. We remain hopeful, successful action will be taken to keep our plant operational for decades to come,” says Murphy.
The future of the area's largest remaining coal-fired power plant is in doubt, after federal regulators say no to a plan to sell it.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission late Friday rejected a plan to sell the Pleasants Power Station to First Energy's Mon Power and Potomac Edison subsidiaries.
Opponents-including West Virginians for Energy Freedom-hailed the decision as a victory for consumers.
Business leaders, however, say if the plant closes, it could be devastating for the area's economy. One we spoke to Monday, suggested going to Washington, D.C., if necessary, to lobby elected officials to save the plant.
"We're going to fight tooth and nail to keep 260 jobs and a company that contributes six figures in annual tax money to Pleasants County," says Jody Murphy, Executive Director of the Pleasants County Chamber of Commerce. "But we're going to take a wait and see approach to see what First Energy was going to come up with and what they will want us to do."
First Energy, meanwhile, issued a statement of its own on the FERC's decision:
"We are disappointed by FERC’s order, and believe the decision does not recognize the benefits this vital transaction would bring to our West Virginia customers, including reliable electricity and reduced electric rates, along with creating additional benefits for West Virginia’s economy," said First Energy Spokesman Todd Meyers.
"We will thoroughly review FERC’s order, and carefully evaluate our next options."
The Public Service Commission also has been considering First Energy's request, after a series of public meetings last fall in several West Virginia cities, including Parkersburg. Approval of both agencies, however, was needed before the sale could be completed.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has denied Mon Power and Potomac Edison's request to buy a Pleasants County Power Plant from parent company FirstEnergy, according to a filing Friday.
First energy planned to sell Pleasants power station, a coal-fired plant, to its subsidiaries for $195 million. If the deal went through, it would have become part of the regulated West Virginia market, where it is guaranteed a profit.
FERC rejected the Pleasants sale because of the risk that it would result in improper cross subsidization among FirstEnergy.
Cathy Kunkel, an energy analyst with the institute for energy economics and financial analysis, says this order is not surprising because FirstEnergy clearly orchestrated the sale of the Pleasants plant in order to shift costs.