It took us four Commission meetings to get there, but our Commission has once again demonstrated that it stands with the citizens who elected them to carry out the county's business.
Public comment supporting the Resolution was given by George Rutherford, Patience Wait, and Keryn Newman. Public comment opposing the Resolution was given by FirstEnergy's public relations guy from some other part of the state, Mr. Charlie Frid-lee (or whatever his name is, as if it matters). Mr. Frid-lee launched into a line by line attack of the Resolution. It pretty much went this way: This statement is incorrect. There's no basis for this statement. This statement is speculation. Our experts filed testimony at the PSC saying something else. About halfway through, he stumbled over the item about whether or not Harrison would continue to operate if the sale is not approved. Apparently, according to Mr. Frid-lee, merchant generators operate differently than fully regulated ones. He helped bang home the point I had just made to the Commission, that FirstEnergy was not willing to take a risk on its merchant coal plants and has recently announced the closure of two more plants. However, the company wants to dump the risk of Harrison on West Virginians. If FirstEnergy wouldn't take the business risk of continuing to operate old coal plants, why should West Virginia's ratepayers? Mr. Frid-lee was saved by the bell about halfway through the resolution. Turns out he had friddled away his 3-minute speaking allowance before getting even halfway done. The Commission was not willing to bend the rules for Mr. Frid-lee and he was cut off. Frid-lee friddle FAIL, FirstEnergy!
The Commission made Mr. Frid-lee cool his heels for another hour before they got to the agenda item about the Resolution. Chairman Manuel moved that the Resolution be adopted. Commissioner Tabb seconded. Discussion ensued.
Commissioner Pellish said the Resolution was political correctness, did not contain facts, and was just a "feel good" resolution not based on facts. He would not support the language as written. He did, however, offer to support a plain statement simply opposing the plant without all the "whereas" stuff.
Commissioner Noland said that she had been wrestling with not having enough info. to back the Resolution as written. But then she read Jamie Van Nostrand's blog post and started to think the plant purchase maybe wasn't such a good idea. But, in the end, Commissioner Noland can't make this kind of decision because she doesn't have enough info and has not seen any facts.
Commissioner Tabb said she originally did not have enough info., but she took the initiative to do the research and become informed. Commissioner Tabb knows what it's like to be the ordinary citizen getting run over by the huge corporation from personal experience, and therefore she voted for the resolution, as the voice of the people who elected her to the Commission.
Chairman Manuel said that he supported the Resolution because few in West Virginia are standing up for consumers anymore and that he wanted to do so.
Commissioner Widmyer closed the show by supporting the Resolution and stating that two other counties in West Virginia had passed a similar resolution opposing the purchase of Harrison. She pointed out that was in direct contradiction to Mr. Frid-lee's statement that "only a few individuals" were against the plant sale.
I guess Mr. Frid-lee's statement was incorrect, had no basis, and was pure speculation.
The Resolution of the Jefferson County Commission Opposing FirstEnergy's Proposed Intra-Company Sale of the Harrison Power Plant was adopted by a 3 - 2 vote.
Thank you for supporting your citizens, Jefferson County Commission!