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PSC chairman defends power plant ruling

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The chairman of the West Virginia Public Service Commission defended the commission’s order which allowed for federally required environmental upgrades at three major coal fire power plants in West Virginia.

Charlotte Lane

The decision will eventually lead to increased rates for customers of Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power, but Commission Chair Charlotte Lane said the alternative would have been worse.


“It would cost a lot more to shut the plants down than these upgrades and in the process of shutting them down, you’d lose almost 600 jobs, $85 Million in wages and shutting them down prematurely would have a severe impact on the local economy,” Lane explained on Metronews Talkline.

The PSC recently side with the company for the upgrades at the Mountaineer, Mitchell, and John Amos Power plants in West Virginia. But Lane said the rates don’t immediately go up and it will be at least a year and will require another rate hike request by AEP. The upgrades allow the plants to remain operational through the year 2040.

Neighboring Virginia and Kentucky, where some of the power is sold, denied a rate hike to keep the plants online. through their projected sunset date. Lane said they couldn’t control what other states do, but believed their decision was correct and was not one which favored coal over other sources of energy.

“All sources of energy have to be in the mix, but right now, the most reliable source of electricity in West Virginia are these coal fired plants and we cannot abandon them, or abandon our citizens who rely upon reliable energy,” she said.

Her comments were echoed by Chris Hamilton, President of the West Virginia Coal Association.


“We’re seeing systems beginning to crash and fail around the world. I think we have a very strong likelihood of increased brown outs and black outs, particularly as we move toward the winter months,” he explained.

Chris Hamilton

Hamilton said the reliability of the three plants had to be taken into consideration along with the jobs at each plant and in the mining communities which serve the plants. He said neighboring states are making a grave mistake by aggressively pushing away coal as a source of power.

“The state of Virginia, that refused to grant the approval of the upgrades, the state of Pennsylvania, and other states are transitioning to a much higher percentage of renewable energy, just as the world is beginning to feel an energy crises. Were starting to see countries all over the world back of of these renewable energy policies,” he explained.

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