"Further, we fully understand the reasons that the Commission deferred approval of the transfer of the Mitchell Plant and the merger of Wheeling Power into Appalachian, and we're glad we'll have the opportunity to address the benefits of both the Mitchell Plant and the merger for all our West Virginia customers," Matheney said.
In a news release, the PSC said it deferred ruling on the Mitchell plant transaction because regulators in neighboring Virginia already had rejected the deal.
"Reliance on a transaction that is critical to an overall long-term capacity plan, but which cannot go forward because of regulatory roadblocks in other jurisdictions, is not realistic or reasonable at this time," the commission said.
The PSC said it deferred ruling on the ApCo-Wheeling Power merger because the Amos transaction alone will resolve Appalachian's generation capacity deficit until at least 2015.
Jackie Roberts, director of the PSC's Consumer Advocate Division, said she is pleased that the commission followed her division's recommendation that it approve only one of Appalachian Power's two proposed plant acquisitions. However, Roberts said, not all of her concerns were addressed by the PSC ruling.
"We were very concerned that there were no arm's-length negotiations," Roberts said. "There were discussions among the operating companies, but there were no negotiations. We thought the market should be tested to see if that was the best opportunity for them or if they could diversify their portfolio."
The West Virginia-Citizen Action Group is appealing the PSC's FirstEnergy ruling to the state Supreme Court. WV-CAG spokeswoman Cathy Kunkel said Friday that the commission didn't address all of her group's concerns -- such as liabilities for toxic coal-ash impoundments and not having a more diverse generation portfolio.
"It's disappointing that the commission does not consider demand-side resources -- energy efficiency -- as resources that our utilities should be investing in over the long term to help reduce the magnitude of future capacity additions," Kunkel said.
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.