CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Public Service Commission heard comments from both those for and against Appalachian Power Company’s power plant purchase plan during a three-day hearing that got started Tuesday in Charleston.
Customer Robin Wilson, a member of the climate change reversal group WV 350, urged the commission to take a close look at the proposal. He said he fears the purchase of two coal-fired plants would take money away from Appalachian Power’s energy efficiency programs.
“We need to spend money on that kind of thing as opposed to buying new fossil fuel power which is going to contribute to climate change,” Wilson said.
But West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney told the PSC the purchases of the John Amos plant in Putnam County and the Mitchell plant in Marshall County would be a boost to the coal industry.
“With the all-out-assault on coal, idling plants at every corner, we simply cannot take opportunities to use West Virginia coal for granted any longer. Particularly one so significant as this,” Raney said.
AEP plans to close a total of four coal-fired power plants in West Virginia and Virginia in 2015.
Ninety-one percent of the coal burned at the Mitchell plant comes from West Virginia while only 47 percent at the large John Amos plant is mined in the Mountain State.
Raney asked the PSC to approve the proposal but to also to urge Appalachian Power to use all West Virginia coal at the plants.
State Senate President Jeff Kessler also testified. He said the Mitchell plant is a large employer in his home county and having it at least half-owned by a West Virginia company would make sense.
“It seems to me to be a win-win situation to regain a portion of ownership of a West Virginia asset located in West Virginia for the benefit of West Virginians, particularly those who reside in my region,” Kessler said.
The PSC’s final decision will come later this year.