Columbus, Ohio-based 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. A hearing on the AEP case is set for mid-July.
The power companies say 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.
"There really are real benefits to Mon Power to control their own destiny and own this asset," Michael Delmar, FirstEnergy's director of regulated generation dispatch, told commissioners in testimony Wednesday.
Critics say FirstEnergy is proposing excessive rate increases to fund an overvalued transaction, ignoring the potential gains from better demand-side energy efficiency programs, and locking the Mon Power subsidiary into a generation mix that is too narrowly focused on coal.
FirstEnergy wants to value the Harrison plant at roughly $1.1 billion, about twice what critics say it is worth. The company says the deal would be funded through an annual "surcharge" on Mon Power customers of $63.4 million, which translates into a 6 percent rate hike for residential and commercial customers, PSC documents show.
In PSC cases, most of the evidence comes through prepared testimony that is filed prior to the in-person hearing. At the hearings themselves, lawyers for various sides focus on cross-examining other parties' witnesses.
For example, PSC consumer advocate lawyer Jacqueline Lake Roberts on Wednesday questioned Delmar repeatedly about his assertion in prepared testimony that improved energy efficiency and demand reduction programs aren't reasonable alternatives for Mon Power to deal with its projected generation deficit.
Commissioners did not schedule a public hearing to allow citizens to speak out on the FirstEnergy proposal, but agreed to allow several speakers who showed up for this week's formal, evidentiary hearing, to deliver brief statements.
Among the speakers was Stephen Smith, director of the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, who told commissioners that average West Virginia families would be hurt by the FirstEnergy proposal.
"We believe a transaction that includes more efficiency programs will create more jobs and allow more families to get back on their feet," Smith told the PSC.
Reach Ken Ward Jr. atkw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.