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Timing of Pleasants Power Station transfer decision still unknown

By JIM ROSS

The State Journal

CHARLESTON, W.Va.  — The Public Service Commission of West Virginia has yet to decide whether to allow the transfer of ownership of the Pleasants Power Station, and it does not have a schedule for doing so.

“The parties have asked for a decision to be made in a timely manner, but there is no deadline,” PSC spokeswoman Karen Hall said recently.

FirstEnergy Corp. subsidiaries Mon Power and Potomac Edison filed a request with the PSC on March 7 to purchase the coal-fired Pleasants Power Station at Willow Island from fellow FirstEnergy subsidiary Allegheny Energy Supply for $195 million.

FirstEnergy said the transfer of the plant from Ohio’s deregulated retail market to West Virginia’s regulated market would fend off an expected shortfall in power generation in its service territory in Northern West Virginia and the Eastern Panhandle. It also would result in the average residential bill dropping by about $1 a month, FirstEnergy said.

FirstEnergy spokesman Mark Durbin said recently, “We are not aware of when the PSC might issue a decision on the Pleasants case.”

WV SUN, an organization that develops solar co-ops across the state, is one of several groups opposing the transfer. Karan Ireland, state director for WV SUN, likewise said she has not heard of a date for a decision.

“I don’t know anything about when a decision will be made,” she said.

Meanwhile, the recent memorandum of understanding signed by the West Virginia Department of Commerce and China Energy Investment Corp. for the Chinese company to invest $83.7 billion in shale gas development and chemical manufacturing projects in West Virginia has been said to include the possibility of new gas-fired power plants in West Virginia. Durbin said that would probably have no impact on Mon Power’s need for Pleasants.

“While the announcement about potential Chinese investment in West Virginia does not directly affect the Pleasants case, it does support our overall belief that electric load forecasts will continue to grow in the state as a result of additional shale gas activity,” he said.

Staff Writer Jim Ross can be reached at 304-395-3483 or email at [email protected]

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