Reporter Jared Hunt wrote a somewhat strange article that appeared on Monday in the Charleston Daily Mail. The story purports to be about the AARP’s resistance to utility rate increases. While an AARP spokesperson talks vaguely about keeping rates down, especially for the group’s 300,000 WV members, he offers nothing concrete in the way of solutions. The AARP seems content to just complain about rates to make it appear as though they are doing something. When it comes to actually doing something about rate increases, they don’t have much to say.
The real long-term solution to WV’s electric rate problems, and the state’s over-dependence on increasingly expensive coal-fired power technologies, is to require power companies to prove that their investment choices are the lowest cost in all PSC cases. In order to do this kind of least cost analysis, which is now common around the US, the PSC needs to require power companies to do integrated resource planning.
Has AARP publicly supported integrated resource planning legislation in WV? No. Have AARP spokespeople even publicly supported the idea of integrated resource planning? No.
In fact, integrated resource planning was not mentioned once in Hunt’s story, which was ostensibly about rate increases.
While Hunt provided a pretty good overview of some of the rate increases coming at West Virginians, he included some rather odd quotes from WV Consumer Advocate Byron Harris. In discussing the attempt by AEP and FirstEnergy to recover $120 million from rate payers in PJM for PATH’s abandonment costs, Hunt never mentions the West Virginia citizens who are fighting this rate increase at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. After all, Keryn Newman from Jefferson County and Alison Haverty from Calhoun County have been fighting to keep PATH costs off our electric bills for three years now, and there has never been a mention of them in the Daily Mail. The Power Line has been covering the story. StopPATH WV has been covering the story. Calhoun County’s Hur Herald did a great story on Ms. Haverty. But nothing in the state’s “major” media outlets. Here was the Daily Mail’s chance, and they blew it.
Hunt quotes Harris as saying that the WV CAD can’t do anything about the PATH costs because that is a matter for FERC. Harris never tells Hunt that he and the WV CAD are actually parties to the FERC case. Harris, along with most of the other consumer advocates in PJM, are opposing this rate increase in the current case.
In sum, I think Hunt’s article provides more confusion than news.