Va. decision should not delay AEP asset transfer, parties say - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Va. decision should not delay AEP asset transfer, parties say

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A recent ruling by Virginia utility regulators should have little or no bearing on how the West Virginia Public Service Commission proceeds on a request by Appalachian Power to buy generating assets, two parties involved in the case say.

Apco wants to purchase one of three generating units at the John Amos power plant in Putnam County and a half interest in the Mitchell power plant in Marshall County from Ohio Power. As part of the transaction, Apco would merge with Wheeling Power Co. All three companies are subsidiaries of American Electric Power.

On July 31, the Virginia State Corporation Commission approved the transfer of generating unit at Amos, but it did not approve the Mitchell transfer.

On Aug. 8, the PSC issued an order saying it requires more information about its options in light of the VSCC ruling and whether the PSC should re-open its evidentiary hearings to account for the VSCC decision.

This week, Appalachian Power filed its response, saying the record does not need to be re-opened.

ApCo said it has 20 days from the VSCC decision to request a reconsideration, and it has not decided whether to do so. It also has 30 days from the date of the decision to file an appeal.

The ApCo answer said it needs the transfer of the Mitchell assets if it is go through with the merger with Wheeling Power. Without Mitchell's generating capacity, ApCo will be in a deficit position with regard to power supply, the company said.

The PSC's Consumer Advocate Division also filed a response. It said the PSC "need not be concerned with the availability of supply for a merged Apco/Wpco." Supply problems are already addressed through a bridge agreement and purchased capacity, the reply says.

"There is nothing in the VSCC order which should cause the Commission to delay the approval of the Apco/Wpco merger," the document says. "The Companies' testimony demonstrates that the merger is in the best interest of West Virginia. The only entity disadvantaged by the VSCC order is AEP Generation Resources (AEP Gen), Apco's unregulated affiliate. AEP Gen now finds itself owning one-half of the Mitchell plant without a certain market for that capacity. This does not affect the interests of Apco.

"Although Apco and Wpco are understandably concerned about the impact of the VSCC order on AEP Gen, the Commission should not be."