WV Coal Not an Issue in Harrison Case, FE Could Care Less About WV

The first issue we need to address is the fact that whether or not Mon Power ends up with the remaining 80% of the Harrison plant will have nothing to do with how FirstEnergy operates the plant or whether the plant burns WV coal or not.

The natural gas industry and the WV Coal Association filed testimony in the Harrison case that has little, or nothing, to do with this fact.  The gas industry filing was just a cut and paste job from Marcellus propaganda, and the Coal Association filing isn’t even worth reading.

The information about FirstEnergy’s operation and fuel plans for the plant was already made public back in February.  I don’t know why the fossil fuel industry witnesses can’t read what FE has already said, and respond to that.

Here is what FirstEnergy said in response to discovery questions from the Utility Workers Union of America back in early February:

Question 4-26:
If Mon Power becomes the sole owner of the Harrison station (as proposed in the transaction), would Mon Power agree to use only West Virginia coal at the Harrison station for the remaining life of the station? If not, why not?
Response:
Mon Power could not agree to use only West Virginia coal at the Harrison station for the remaining life of the station as it would negatively affect Mon Power‘s ability to achieve its coal procurement objectives. Committing to utilize only West Virginia coal would reduce Mon Power’s ability to negotiate economical pricing and diversify its portfolio of coal suppliers, as West Virginia suppliers would know Mon Power had to purchase coal within the state. Additionally, committing to utilize only West Virginia coal could prohibit Mon Power from securing a mix of coal supplies that minimizes environmental compliance costs. The result of committing to utilizing only West Virginia coal would likely result in higher fuel costs to Mon Power’s customers. [emphasis mine]

In other words, Mon Power could care less what coal the company uses, as long as it is cheapest and meets the company’s needs, not those of WV.  By the way, if you review the discovery response, you will see FirstEnergy respond using these same kinds of words as answers to all the Utility Workers Union questions about using WV coal.  In other words, the WV coal companies get nothing from FE in return for their foolish support of the Harrison deal.

So, if the WV PSC approves the FE Harrison plant scheme, the Harrison plant will not operate any differently from the way it operates now, when 80% of the plant sells power on the open market using FE’s non-utility generating company.

FE addressed that issue in another set of responses to the Utility Workers’ discovery questions:

Question 4-29: How would the procurement of coal for the Harrison station be different if Mon Power obtains 100% ownership of the station, rather than the current ownership structure where approximately 80% of the station is owned by an unregulated company?

Response:

Mon Power would continue to procure coal in a prudent and economically
responsible manner.

Could that be any clearer?  I don’t think so.

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