Baffling Sierra Club Report on Harrison Settlement

Apparently, the WV Sierra Club has released an account of their role in the PSC’s Harrison settlement that is even more baffling than their acquiescence itself.

The article in The Observer of Jefferson County, written apparently from a Sierra Club press release is headlined “Sierra Club, FirstEnergy Agree to W.Va. Efficiency Mandate.”  And the first paragraph reads:

The Sierra Club and FirstEnergy signed a settlement agreement that requires FirstEnergy to double energy efficiency requirements in West Virginia and sets a new standard for evaluating energy efficiency for meeting future energy demand.

Nowhere in the article will you find any information about the Sierra Club’s also agreeing to guarantee a 30 year life for a obsolete coal-burning plant using WV rate payers’ money.  You will also find no mention of the fact that the Sierra Club also agreed to raise rates for Mon Power and Potomac Edison customers by an average of $6.00 per month for the next 30 years to pay for that coal burner.

Here is a link to the Observer’s online edition.  The Sierra Club article is on page 29.  I can’t link directly to the page, so you will have to go to the Observer and flip to the page.  Read the article, you will be as amazed as I was.

Since my criticism of the Sierra Club’s settlement back in August, several people connected with the WV Sierra Club have talked to me about allowing someone from the WV Chapter to respond to my criticism.  The comment feature of The Power Line is always open, and I encouraged them to comment on any of my blog posts.  So far, I have received no comments.

The WV Chapter also never sent me their press release about the settlement.  After seeing the Observer article, it’s just as well.  Unfortunately, the only analogy I can apply to the Sierra Club’s outrageous omission of the central issues of the Harrison settlement and the Harrison case is the recent FirstEnergy press release that I posted this morning.   That press release waxes eloquent about the 16-month rate cut from the $25 million Pleasants Power Station credit, while completely ignoring the $6 per month, 30 year rate increase that the average residential customer will be paying as a result of the Harrison purchase.

I was prepared for an explanation from the Sierra Club that once the Consumer Advocate caved in on the settlement, the Club felt they had to jump in to get a little something in the way of energy efficiency improvements. I could have accepted the flawed logic that they were making the best of a bad situation.  Yes, the coal plant got dumped on WV rate payers, but we got a little something in the process.

Instead, we got nothing about the coal plant, nothing about the rate increase, and lots of blather about the scraps that FirstEnergy always throws to the Consumer Advocate in these settlements.  Reading the Observer story, you would have thought that the Harrison case was all about energy efficiency and helping people pay their electric bills, and that the Sierra Club was the only other party to the case besides FirstEnergy.

As I have noted elsewhere, even the doubling of FirstEnergy’s meager energy efficiency targets still leaves WV far behind the targets that FirstEnergy is regularly meeting in PA and OH.  Even if you don’t mention the coal burner, the doubling of the WV target is pretty small change.

Frankly, I am both baffled and disappointed by the Sierra Club’s account, which leaves out all the inconvenient truths of the settlement.


3 thoughts on “Baffling Sierra Club Report on Harrison Settlement

  1. Disappointing as it is when you double zero you still get zero last time I checked, SC missed the story on this one or more accurately they misrepresented the story to look like they got something, I wonder when EEWV will weigh in on this?

  2. I take exception to Jim Kotcon’s article in the October Observer. Despite the inaccurate picture he tried to draw of Sierra Club swooping in like a superhero to beat energy efficiency out of mega-utility FirstEnergy, the truth presents an ugly juxtaposition.

    Nowhere does Kotcon mention that by signing the settlement agreement Sierra Club also commits West Virginia’s ratepayers to more than a billion dollars of long-term debt to purchase a 40-year old coal plant from another FirstEnergy affiliate.

    Mr. Kotcon fails to mention that the mysterious “settlement” occurred in Case No. 12-1571-E-PC, Monongahela Power Company and The Potomac Edison Company, Petition for approval of a generation resource transaction and related relief, more commonly knows as “the Harrison case.” In this case, FirstEnergy proposed selling its 40-year old coal-fired electric generation plant from its competitive market affiliate to its West Virginia-regulated distribution affiliates at an inflated price. Sierra Club’s agreement to this deal guarantees that this coal-fired dinosaur will continue to operate at our expense for the next 27 years! In addition, West Virginia’s ratepayers will pay more than a billion dollars for a plant that is worth much less on the open market. FirstEnergy inflated the value of the plant by nearly six hundred million dollars at the time it merged with Allegheny Energy. Despite common ratemaking principles prohibiting the recovery of this kind of acquisition adjustment “funny money” from ratepayers, the Sierra Club agreed with FirstEnergy and the West Virginia Public Service Commission to make you pay.

    The Sierra Club’s addition of energy efficiency “goodies” in the closed Harrison case also prevents us from participating in a specific FirstEnergy energy efficiency case this year. If you wanted to fight for even better energy efficiency standards that are comparable to those FirstEnergy must live up to in neighboring states, now you can’t, thanks to the Sierra Club.

    Kotcon turns a defeat into victory only through creative writing and avoidance of facts. The truth is that the Sierra Club did us no favors by knuckling under to FirstEnergy’s financial terrorism.

    It looks like I’m going to be spending the money I had planned to use to renew my Sierra Club membership this year on higher electric bills to pay for Harrison. The Sierra Club has lost my support, and now, thanks to Kotcon’s fairy tale, my respect as well.

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