Like a bolt of lightning out of a clear blue sky, the WV PSC issued an Order yesterday reopening the companies' ENEC filing and requiring more information on the retirements. Meanwhile, FirstEnergy is forbidden to take any further action toward the retirements.
The PSC's Order made a lot of people and entities insanely curious about what's driving the PSC's Order, and apparently, the curious include FirstEnergy itself.
Is the WV PSC being driven by the politics and influence of coal? It happened in Kentucky when AEP changed course and decided to install scrubbers on Big Sandy instead of retirement/repowering.
Is the WV PSC concerned about reliability issues? A "Reliability Status Report" on the plant retirements has been completed by PJM, however PJM won't publicly release the information at this time.
Is the WV PSC concerned about the economic/jobs issues? Preston County is begging the Commission to keep Albright open.
Or, is the WV PSC concerned about rate increases for the companies' West Virginia customers? Perhaps the Commission got wind of a curious little news blurb that appeared briefly back in February, and then disappeared from major news outlets. Fortunately, there's at least one copy still hanging around. The article claims that FirstEnergy is gaming the markets with plant closures in order to score a huge financial windfall.
"First Energy’s nuclear plants and baseload coal plants with environmental controls are the primary beneficiaries of the EPA rules," Hugh Wynne, an analyst at Sanford Bernstein, told AP.
Who wouldn't be suspicious when FirstEnergy's "informational filing" reads like they are making a sensible decision... for a change.
Ya know, if West Virginia statute required electric utilities to do least cost planning (S.B. 162, which failed), the PSC would probably already have all the information it is now ordering FirstEnergy to produce, and there would be no need for curiosity.
"Curiouser and curiouser," said Alice...
More to come.