Courtesy photo

A large crowd sat in on Friday’s hearing before the state Public Service Commission.

 

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Monongahela Power Company wants the state Public Service Commission to approve its purchase of the Harrison Power Station from its parent company before the end of the month. The company made the request during a hearing Friday before the PSC in Charleston on a proposed settlement in the case.  

Mon Power Director of Rates and Regulatory Affairs Kevin Wise told the commission the approval of the settlement is needed soon for a number of financial and power grid reasons.

“The companies would need an order by September 24th,” Wise said.

“Of this year?” PSC Chairman Mike Albert shot back.

“Yes, of 2013,” Wise said.

Mon Power had hoped for quick approval by the PSC once it reached a settlement on the purchase with a number of parties last month but the PSC called that corporate enthusiasm and scheduled the hearing that took place Friday.

If approved, Mon Power will have clearance to buy the rest of the Harrison Power Station from Allegheny Energy Supply for $1.1 billion for sole ownership of the 1,984 megawatt coal fired plant.

Wise repeated Friday the reasons Mon Power needs control of the plant near Shinnston.

“It resolves the capacity deficiency with a very strong, very efficient, very valuable generating asset at a very reasonable cost to customers,” Wise said. ”The transaction will provide customers with rate reductions on day one.”

But West Virginia Citizens Action Group attorney Bill DePaulo challenged the financial aspects of the settlement. He said while Mon Power may not seek a rate increase next year to pay for the plant, customers for the next 32-plus years could look forward to footing the bill. 

“This passes on to customers in later years the real cost of this transaction,” DePaulo said.

“I don’t think it does that,” Wise countered.

DePaulo and Wise also disagreed on Mon Power’s pledge to add 50 jobs as a result of the purchase.

The West Virginia AARP is also questioning the transaction. In a letter sent to the PSC AARP State Director Gaylene Miller said her group remains concerned about the “inflated valuation” assessed to the plant. She said less than five years ago the Harrison Station value was assessed at nearly half of the $1.1 billion price.

Those who have signed on to the settlement agreement include PSC staff members, the state Consumer Advocate, the West Virginia Energy Users Group, the West Virginia State Building and Construction Trades Council and several different organizations with the AFL-CIO.

The PSC has not committed to making its decision by the end of the month.

 

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