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FirstEnergy case appealed to Supreme Court

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia-Citizen Action Group on Wednesday appealed to the state Supreme Court a Public Service Commission decision that paved the way for FirstEnergy to transfer ownership of a Harrison County power plant to its West Virginia subsidiary, Monongahela Power.

WV-CAG argues that the PSC's approval of a $250 million markup in the price of the plant violated state law and previous commission orders.

Also, the group says that the need for additional electricity generation capacity was "a cover" for FirstEnergy's effort to get cash from the plant transaction to help reduce the company's debt.

"FirstEnergy is the clear winner in this deal," said WV-CAG Executive Director Gary Zuckett. "The illegal markup that FirstEnergy has tacked onto the price of Harrison equates to $500 from every Mon Power and Potomac Edison customer in West Virginia."

In early October, the PSC approved the FirstEnergy transaction in a 2-1 vote, with Commissioner Ryan Palmer issuing a strongly worded dissent. Commission Chairman Mike Albert and Jon McKinney approved the deal.

The case is one of two such proposals that have been under consideration by the PSC. In the other, American Electric Power wants to transfer its John Amos plant near St. Albans and its Mitchell facility near Moundsville to its Charleston-based Appalachian Power subsidiary. The PSC has not ruled in that case.

The power companies have argued their proposals will help them deal with upcoming deficits in electricity needed to serve Mon Power customers in northern West Virginia and Appalachian Power customers in the southern part of the state.

Critics argued that both proposals ignored the potential gains from better demand-side energy-efficiency programs, and would lock the utilities into generation mixes that are too narrowly focused on coal.Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kward@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.


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