Power Companies at It Again – Misleading Your Legislators About HB 2803

In our past efforts at the Legislature, AEP and FirstEnergy lobbyists have never failed to use the tools of false rumor to drive a wedge between legislators and their constituents.

Needless to say, it’s happening again.  Over the past few weeks I have been talking with legislators about HB 2803.  Legislators from coal counties have told me that someone has told them that integrated resource planning will hurt the coal industry and replace WV coal with renewable power.  Really?

Look at the text of the bill

H. B. 2803

(By Delegates Manchin, Poling, M., Iaquinta, Guthrie,                        Moore, Marshall and Manypenny)

[Introduced March 4, 2013; referred to the
Committee on Government Organization then the Judiciary.]

A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated §24-2-19, relating to requiring electric utilities to implement integrated resource plans; requiring the Public Service Commission to order development of integrated resource plans; specifying certain  deadlines for the plans; requiring commission review, public hearing and option for requesting further information; and addressing the commission’s use of the plan.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new section, designated §24-2-19, to read as follows:
ARTICLE 2.  POWERS AND DUTIES OF PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION.
§24-2-19.  Integrated Resource Planning Required.
(a) Not later than March 31, 2015, the Public Service Commission shall issue an order directing electric utilities to develop an initial integrated resource plan to be filed not later than September 1, 2015, in conjunction with other similar deadlines required by other states or entities of the electric utilities.  This order may include guidelines for developing an integrated resource plan.
(b)(1) Electric utilities shall file with the Public Service Commission an initial integrated resource plan as directed by the Public Service Commission, which shall comply with the provisions of this section and with the order issued pursuant to subsection (a) of this section.
(2) Each electric utility shall file an updated integrated resource plan at least every two years after the initial integrated resource plan which shall comply with the provisions of any relevant order of the Public Service Commission establishing guidelines for the format and contents of updated and revised integrated resource plans.
(c) The Public Service Commission shall analyze and review an integrated resource plan and, after giving notice and hearing comment at a public hearing, file the plan in the appropriate location.  The Public Service Commission may request further information from the utility, as necessary.  Nothing in this section affects the obligations of utilities to obtain otherwise applicable commission approvals.
(d) The commission shall consider the information reported in the integrated resource plan when it evaluates the performance of the utility in rate and other proceedings.
(e) The plan shall address both supply-side and demand-side resources on a consistent and integrated basis. The plan shall compare projected peak demands with current and planned capacity resources in order to develop a portfolio of resources that represents a reasonable balance of cost and risk for the utility and its customers in meeting future demand for the provision of adequate and reliable service to its electric customers for a least the following twenty years.

NOTE:  The purpose of this bill is to require electric utilities to develop and implement integrated resource plans.

Do you see any reference to coal?  Do you see the words “renewable,” “solar,” or “wind”?  No.  Because they aren’t there.

Now, here is what WV Div. of Energy director Jeff Herholdt said about coal recently:

Jeff Herholdt, director of the state Division of Energy, said the state agency is doing all it can to help continue to promote coal as a fuel of the future — for the nation and the rest of the world.

In a new five-year energy plan made public last week, the division pledged to “advocate the importance of retaining coal-powered electric generation to ensure the continuation of affordable electricity to residential, commercial, and industrial users.”

If coal produces “affordable electricity,” then what does the coal industry have to fear from HB 2803?  HB 2803 calls for “a reasonable balance of cost and risk” when assessing sources of electricity.  If coal is as affordable as Mr. Herholdt says, what is the problem?

And what about solar and wind power?  Right now, they are among the higher cost sources of power in terms of levelized investment cost.  It is not likely they will even be on the table in an integrated resource plan.  Again, what is the threat to the coal industry?

HB 2803 is about giving the WV PSC a tool that has been used effectively in 27 other states to hold down electric rates.  That’s it.  The bill doesn’t pick winners or losers, just “a reasonable balance of cost and risk.”

Isn’t that just common sense?

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