The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has denied a request by First Energy to sell its Pleasants Power Station to Mon Power and Potomac Edison.
First Energy said that it needed more capacity for its West Virginia subsidiaries. To meet this need, it solicited proposals. The only proposal that it received was one that involved one First Energy selling the Pleasants Power Station to another First Energy subsidiary.
Opponents argued that this was a ruse. The Pleasants Power Station had been selling its power in Ohio. In Ohio, utilities are unregulated so they are not guaranteed a profit. In West Virginia, utilities are regulated by the Public Service Commission. The Public Service Commission must approve the utility’s rates; in doing so, it allows rates that are high enough to guarantee a profit for the utility. Opponents of the sale argued that the Pleasants Power Station was older and less efficient and could no longer compete in an unregulated market. They said that this transfer was a ruse to move an old power plant from an unregulated market where it could not compete to a regulated market where it would be guaranteed a profit.
In denying the request, FERC said that First Energy had so narrowly tailored its solicitation proposals to increase capacity that only the sale of the Pleasants Power Station could meet the specifications. If First Energy wished to increase its capacity, it would have to do it by opening up the solicitation of proposals for more capacity to all power sources.