Public Service Commission approves request for operations at three coal-fired power plants

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FILE – In this Feb. 1, 2021 file photo, emissions from a coal-fired power plant are silhouetted against the setting sun in Independence, Mo. President Joe Biden is convening a coalition of the willing, the unwilling, the desperate-for-help and the avid-for-money for a two-day summit aimed at rallying the world’s worst polluters to do more to slow climate change. Biden’s first task when his virtual summit opens Thursday is to convince the world that the United States is both willing and able isn’t just willing to meet an ambitious new emissions-cutting pledge, but also able. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

CHARLESTON, WV (WVNS)– A request to continue operations at three coal-fired power plants was approved by the Public Service Commission (PSC) of West Virginia on Tuesday, October 12, 2021.

The request was made by Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power Company. This approval will keep the Amos, Mountaineer, and Mitchell plants running until at least 2040. There is also a cost to upgrade the power plants to environmental standards and controls. These upgrades are required by the Environmental Protection Agency. The cost is estimated at around $448 million.

According to a press release, Virginia and Kentucky rejected the request, which means West Virginia residents will have to make up the difference through a rate increase.

“Today’s order will not immediately affect the power bills of West Virginia customers. The original order, in this case, resulted in a rate increase that would add approximately $2.64 per month to the current bill of a residential customer who uses 1,000 kWh per month,” the release said.

Charlotte Lane, Chairman of the PSC, said that this is great for West Virginians.

“Overall this is a good order for West Virginians. They will have reliable service up through 2040,” Lane said.

Lane said the commission weighed all options for West Virginians and the impact of the community before making this decision.

Until Virginia and Kentucky come to an agreement to pay their share, those customers will not have access to the power plant.

“The Commission determined that if those two states will not share the cost of the upgrades, they will not be permitted to use the capacity and energy produced by the plants,” the release said.

Several organizations responded to the approval. The West Virginia Coal Association President, Chris Hamilton, said this is the cheapest option for customers.

“Keeping these coal plants operational is not only the cheapest option for ratepayers, doing so retains thousands of jobs at the power plants, maintains significant sources of state and local tax revenue…and hundreds of associated vendors that supply these plants with fuel,” the release stated.

AARP mentioned their disappointment about the approval stating, “Thanks to the swift action of the Commission, American Electric Power will recoup its half-billion investments solely on the backs of West Virginia ratepayers.”

For more information about the operation, go to the Public Service Commission website.

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