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West Virginia Coal Association president backs upgrades to coal-fired plants

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The president of the West Virginia Coal Association described keeping three coal-fired power plants in West Virginia open as important for local communities and the state.

Chris Hamilton’s comments on Monday’s “MetroNews Talkline” came days after the Public Service Commission of West Virginia held a public hearing about Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power’s request to increase rates to upgrade the John Amos, Mountaineer and Mitchell facilities.

The utilities have argued $443.8 million is necessary for environmental upgrades to the three plants. Upgraded plants could remain in operation until 2040 compared to 2028 without any additional work.

“It’s been clearly developed that the replacement cost for any of these three plants is going to be in the neighborhood of 10 times the operating costs of the current plants,” Hamilton said on Monday’s “MetroNews Talkline.”

“If we shut those plants down today or 10 years from now, you’re going to, first of all, continue to pay for that plant that’s paid for. You’re going to continue to pay for that like your first mortgage well into the future, but then you’re going to have a second mortgage that all West Virginians are going to have to share the cost going forward as well.”

Hamilton noted how closing each plant could impact communities. He referenced how other communities have struggled after coal-powered plants and coal facilities closed.

“We had six of these plants the size of the Mitchell, Amos and Mountaineer close here about 10 years ago, and it just devastated communities,” he said.

The three plants also serve residents of Virginia and Kentucky, where regulators have already rejected the proposals. Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power have asked the state Public Service Commission to announce a decision by Oct. 13.

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