Just as the meeting was getting underway, the FirstEnergy rep. showed up and sat right in front of us, like a moth to a flame. She proceeded to play with all the papers in her notebook, including her propaganda from now defunct PATH front group, West Virginians for Reliable Power.
During public comment, Patience spoke about the new state-wide citizens' action group, Coalition for Reliable Power, the Coaliton's goals, and invited the Commissioners to Real Solutions to Rising Electric Rates, a public forum to be held in Martinsburg next Tuesday at 6:45 p.m. The forum will address FirstEnergy's proposed energy efficiency program in West Virginia, which was a stipulation in their merger settlement with the PSC. FirstEnergy has proposed a very weak program that will have little effect and little benefit for the vast majority of the ratepayers, however it will be funded by increases to residential electric rates. The Commissioners were invited to come and find out how to take action at the PSC to make FirstEnergy do better. You're invited, too!
I spoke next and gave the Commissioners a brief update on the status (or not!) of the PATH project, demand & congestion, PJM and FERC issues and other related topics.
Afterward, we decided to hang around and see what FirstEnergy had to say for themselves. Charlie Friddle, who was supposed to introduce FE's "new" PR person for the Eastern Panhandle had been called away in the middle of the night, according to Charlene, and wasn't able to attend. (Hmm... did a politician run out of pocket change somewhere?) So, Charlene Gilliam introduced herself.
Bless her little heart, she kept doggedly to the script she was handed when FirstEnergy loaded her batteries, hit the "on" switch and set her in motion on this mission. She began by showing the Commissioners a copy of that vacuous "Hello my name is..." ad and asked them not to be confused by the name Potomac Edison. Although, Charlene seemed a bit confused herself, getting the date of FirstEnergy's takeover of Allegheny Power wrong. Not that a few days matter, after all, it took FirstEnergy six months to get around to introducing their "family" to the County Commission. She told the Commission about Potomac Edison's West Virginia headquarters in Fairmont and pretended it was a great FirstEnergy benefit, when the facility is actually headquarters for Mon Power and financed by the ratepayers through the TrAIL transmission line's FERC formula rate. She showed the Commissioners a map of FirstEnergy's Diverse Generating Sources. 10,371 MW of "supercritical coal"; 4,633 MW of "subcritical coal"; 3,991 MW of nuclear; 2,783 MW of gas/oil; and 2,207 MW of "renewables," which consist entirely of hydro and exist in Jefferson and Berkeley Counties. When asked about that other "renewables" icon on the map that is sitting on the WV/PA border, Charlene didn't know what it was. She made the statement, "Generation percentages will change dramatically in the next 5 years!" When Commissioner Morgan asked her to elaborate on how they would change, Charlene didn't seem to understand the question. After it was repeated/rephrased several times, Charlene said she didn't know and would have to check and get back to the Commission. (okay, stop that snickering, it's not polite!!!) She was also asked a question about scrubbed vs. un-scrubbed coal generation by Commissioner Pellish, and a question by Commissioner Manuel about the effect of Marcellus on FE's generation portfolio. She didn't know the answers to these questions either, all right? In fact, she "wasn't privileged to the information" on Marcellus.
Charlene wanted the Commission to know that she was making the rounds to all the local government and that FE was bringing back their "Economic Development" department. Charlene wanted the Commission to know that she is there to be a direct line of communication for elected officials whenever they needed her. I just hope they don't need her to answer any hard questions, all right?
Charlene took off out of the Commission meeting room like her shoes were on fire as soon as she was excused. I hope she was just beginning her search for answers with appropriate alacrity and not just trying to escape from more questions. Patience and I hung around and mingled with the Commissioners during their next break, and we answered all the questions that Charlene could not.