By Steven Allen Adams, The Intelligencer
CHARLESTON — Supporters of the creation of the revamped Public Energy Authority see it as a way to keep fingers on the pulse of West Virginia’s coal and natural gas-fired power plants. Opponents see it as an overreach. Others expressed support but urged restraint on the authority’s full powers.
Last weekend, Gov. Jim Justice announced the reactivation of the West Virginia Public Energy Authority at the West Virginia Coal Association’s annual conference. The Public Energy Authority — defunct since at least 2012 when the term of the last remaining public member expired — is supposed to promote the state’s power plants fueled by coal, natural gas, and other natural resources in national electricity markets.
The authority is also empowered to finance, build, and even operate coal and natural gas-fired power plants. It can do this through financing power projects, purchasing or leasing electrical power or natural gas transmission projects, and issuing bonds to cover the costs of purchase or construction.
Justice’s announcement about the Public Energy Authority came within days of the appointment of Bill Raney, the former president of the West Virginia Coal Association, as the newest member of the three-member West Virginia Public Service Commission replacing Brooks McCabe. Chris Hamilton, the current president of the West Virginia Coal Association, was one of four public members appointed to the Public Energy Authority…