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West Virginia Coal Association intervenes in AEP rate case to keep state coal-fired power plants operating

Release from the West Virginia Coal Association:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Coal Association filed a motion with the West Virginia Public Service Commission on Friday, Feb. 19, to intervene in a case involving the John Amos Power Plant (Putnam Co.), Mountaineer Power Plant (Mason Co.) and Mitchell Power Plant (Marshall Co.) to mandate the Ohio-based, parent utility, American Electric Power (AEP), to continue operating the state-regulated plants throughout their planned operating life cycle.

Chris Hamilton

“These plants have provided the state and region an enormous infusion of tax dollars and revenues for decades and more importantly keep thousands of West Virginians gainfully employed,” said Chris Hamilton, president of the West Virginia Coal Association. “The real rate payers of our state – the power plant workers and area residents – have kept these facilities in tip-top operating condition which should assure that these plants continue to operate for their planned life cycle and not close prematurely because of growing Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) concerns or at the whims of the Sierra Club or other environmental groups.”

In December, under the names of APCO and Wheeling Power, an application for the issuance of a “Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity” was filed with the West Virginia PSC purporting to make modifications to the three West Virginia plants to comply with federal environmental regulations, thus qualifying for cost recovery.

In their filing, the utilities provide for different options for the PSC to consider including the premature closure (2028 vs. 2040) of the Mitchell Plant in Marshall County.  Last year (2020) it was revealed that AEP was negotiating with the Sierra Club in a similar case to possibly close the Amos and Mountaineer plants.  

“This is a critical area of concern for the thousands of miners represented by the West Virginia Coal Association,” said Hamilton. “Our petition to intervene is consistent with one of our overriding objectives – to preserve and protect in-state coal consumption and the thousands of plant and mine related jobs that hang in the balance.” 

In similar cases, where the industry interests were not represented, utilities have negotiated unfavorable settlements with coal-adverse groups.  Intervening in the case will preserve the West Virginia Coal Association’s standing in subsequent negotiations or settlement talks going forward.

Other intervenors in this case include” the Consumer Advocate Division of the West Virginia PSC, which is required to intervene in each matter where rate increases are proposed; the Sierra Club; the West Virginia Citizen Action Group; the Solar United Neighbors and Energy Efficient West Virginia (jointly); and the West Virginia Energy Users Group.

The West Virginia Coal Association is represented in this matter by the law firm of Phillip, Gardill, Kaiser and Altmeyer, PLLC of Wheeling. 

For additional information, contact Chris Hamilton at (304) 342-4153.

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