Energy: Balance, planning needed for economy

Last month, we reported American Electric Power had plans to keep four of its coal-fired power plants open and meeting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Coal Combustion Residuals and Effluent Limitation Guidelines. Three of those four plants are here in the Mountain State: the Mountaineer Plant in New Haven, the Amos Plant in Winfield and Moundsville’s Mitchell Plant. But at the time we knew AEP had yet to file its compliance plans. Now we know what those plans entail.

AEP’s Appalachian Power has asked the West Virginia Public Service Commission to approve rate increases that would fund the environmental improvements at those plants. In detailing its request, AEP outlines plans to keep the plants running through 2040 … and one option that would keep the Mitchell Plant running only until 2028.

“For Mitchell our analysis demonstrates complying with both the CCR and ELG rules and operating the plant through 2040 will be more costly for customers than CCR-only compliance and retiring the plant in 2028,” Appalachian Power spokesman Phil Moye told another media outlet.

There are 200 employees at the Mitchell Plant. It uses an average of 11,000 tons of coal per day. Last year, it was fueled by coal mined in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia — 2.6 million tons from West Virginia. We’re talking about a lot more than 200 jobs in Marshall County here.

Lawmakers and regulators have a twofold problem, then. Find a balance between rules that create a healthy environment for both the employers AND their customers; and begin behaving as though they understand a multi-faceted approach to transitioning our economy without leaving thousands of West Virginians behind MUST be implemented.


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