WV Citizen Action Group Files Objection to Harrison Settlement Proposal

On Friday, the WV Citizen Action Group filed an objection to the proposed Harrison settlement proposal at the WV PSC.

Here are the elements of the objection as stated in the document:

  1. “The proposed settlement’s inclusion in the purchase price of any portion of
    the originally proposed $589 million mark-up of the Harrison Power Plant violates a prior final order of a prior PSC decision, is improper as a matter of law, and is not a matter committed to agency discretion at this time.”
  2. “The proposed settlement, which tacitly accepts “adequacy of coal supply” as
    a ground for approval of the Harrison acquisition, is no substitute for diversity of generation, and Commission approval of such a settlement would lack substantial evidence and be arbitrary and capricious.”
  3. “Approval of the proposed settlement is not supported by substantial evidence in the administrative record as to the total cost of the Harrison acquisition.”
  4. “Commission approval of the Harrison acquisition (as contemplated by the
    settlement agreement filed with the Commission), based upon the Companies use of internally generated appraisals and projections, uninformed by readily available market tools, such as a Request for Proposal, would be arbitrary and capricious.”
  5. “The Companies’ claimed risks of minority ownership, accepted for all practical purposes by the proposed settlement, do not just@ the purchase of pll of Harrison, and Commission approval of the proposed settlement on the basis of such claims would lack substantial evidence.”
  6. “The proposed settlement fails to include necessary energy efficiency
    provisions.”
  7. “Commission approval of the proposed settlement would put the Companies’ corporate parent’s interests ahead of the ratepayers.”

In the objection, each of these items is backed up by evidence presented in the case.  You will find that evidence in the objection under each item.

So now WV CAG is on record as opposing the FirstEnergy/CAD/PSC staff/Sierra Club settlement proposal.  Remember that the parties to the settlement are all giving the PSC Commissioners the bums rush.  They want the Commission to approve the settlement before August 30, and before public opposition to the settlement can grow.

Keryn provides a clear picture of the larger political context over at StopPATHWV:

The public has been increasingly dissatisfied with the actions of the WV PSC over the past several years.  It’s not just some obscure agency nobody has ever heard of anymore.  High profile rate cases, the PATH project, and now the intra-company coal plant sale cases have promoted the WV PSC to common dinner table talk.  As well, public anger over the FirstEnergy/Potomac Edison billing investigation has raised the ire of legislators.  The WV PSC, with one expired Commissioner and another re-appointed but not yet confirmed by the Senate, does not want any nasty utility public relations poo stuck to its shoe.  Any decision it would have made on FirstEnergy’s Harrison transfer (other than a denial) would have produced more citizen and legislative scorn, possibly turning into the straw that broke the camel’s back.  So, the Commission slunk out of the emergency exit by not having to make a real decision.  Because the case was “settled,” blame for what went wrong can be foisted off on the settling parties.

The Consumer Advocate will be retiring at the end of next month.  A new one will be appointed by the Chairman of the PSC (let’s not even worry about what a very stupid idea this is right now!)  Any consumer advocate division employees who may be hopeful of moving up to the top spot and filling the vacancy would be beholden to pleasing the Chairman right now.  Perhaps one way to cement the Chairman’s approval would be a willingness to divert public anger from the Chairman (who doesn’t need anymore public disapproval before his re-appointment is confirmed).

Once the PSC staff and Consumer Advocate rolled over for FirstEnergy, the rest of the parties just went on a feeding frenzy to pick up what stray crumbs they could (with the exception of WVCAG, who exhibited good, old fashioned ethics).

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