What a Difference a State Makes

By Lowell Markey

According to an Associated Press article dated April 25, 2023, the West Virginia Public Service Commission allowed Monongahela Power and Potomac Edison to move forward with finalizing a plan they project will cost electric ratepayers at least $36 million to cover the cost of purchasing the Pleasants Power Station at Willow Island, and keeping the two-unit, 1300 MW station operating.  

The request by First Energy—holding company for both Monongahela and Potomac Edison— was urged by state republican leadership and will allow the two subsidiaries to study the possibility of adding the Pleasants Power Station to their power production holdings. Otherwise, the station’s more than 150 employees will lose their jobs after its May 31, 2024, closure date.  If the station closes, it would likely be demolished by its owner, Energy Transitions and Environmental Management, of Texas. 

Originally scheduled for closure in 2018, Pleasants has received millions of dollars in bailouts from state republican leaders that have extended its life for years. 

Meanwhile in Western Maryland, First Energy is pursuing a buyout of its power purchase contract with AES Warrior Run, a coal-fired power station near Cumberland. According to an April 28, 2023, story in the Cumberland Times-News, a buyout figure of $357 million has been reached between Potomac Edison and AES to terminate the contract seven years early. The proposal has been submitted to the Maryland Public Service Commission for approval.  Potomac Edison officials said the buyout could save customers roughly $80 million in surcharges. 

According to Allegany County Commissioner Dave Caporale, who spoke with AES officials, the company is considering converting the Warrior Run power station to a wood-fired biomass facility which the company sees as more of a green resource than coal.