CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The state Public Service Commission on Friday approved American Electric Power's plan to transfer complete ownership of its John Amos power plant near St. Albans to the company's West Virginia subsidiary, Appalachian Power.
Commissioners declined, though, to approve the transfer of half of the ownership of the Mitchell power plant in Moundsville to Appalachian Power or to allow the merger of AEP's Wheeling Power into ApCo, deferring rulings on those two issues.
Commissioners issued their ruling in the second of two closely watched cases in which large power companies were seeking to transfer ownership of coal-fired power plants to their West Virginia affiliates.
In October, the PSC approved the transfer by FirstEnergy of its Harrison power station near Shinnston to its Monongahela Power subsidiary.
FirstEnergy and AEP said the proposals would help their regulated utilities 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 of both proposals, including environmental and consumer groups, worried about potential impacts on customer rates, said the utilities were ignoring potential gains from better energy-efficiency programs and complained that the transactions locked West Virginia into a generation mix too narrowly focused on coal.
ApCo proposed acquiring from AEP the last 867 megawatts of the 2,900-megawatt Amos plant that ApCo doesn't already own.
In a 50-page ruling announced Friday afternoon, Commissioners Michael Albert, Jon McKinney and Ryan Palmer dismissed such concerns, at least regarding the Amos transaction.
"The Amos acquisition has a great deal of merit and few, if any drawbacks," the commission said.
Jeri Matheney, spokeswoman for Appalachian Power, said in an email that the company is "glad to see that the commission recognized customers will benefit from the low-cost electricity that the Amos plant provides and approved the transfer of Amos to Appalachian."