PSC Defers Ruling on Mitchell Plant Deal

MOUNDSVILLE – American Electric Power officials will have to wait to learn if they can transfer half of the Mitchell Plant’s generating capacity to AEP subsidiary Appalachian Power Co. following a Friday ruling by the Public Service Commission of West Virginia.

Officials with the PSC also deferred ruling on whether AEP can merge the Wheeling Power Co. into the Appalachian Power Co., emphasizing AEP must provide an “economic plan to serve the Wheeling Power Co. load before the merger is consummated.”

Both Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power are wholly owned subsidiaries of Columbus, Ohio-based AEP, with the Wheeling company serving Ohio and Marshall counties and the Appalachian company serving much of central and southern West Virginia.

Together, the two AEP subsidiaries provide electricity to more than 478,000 West Virginia customers.

The coal-fired Mitchell plant is 42 years old, but had scrubbers installed in 2007. AEP has already announced plans to completely shutter the nearby Kammer plant by the end of 2014.

According to the PSC, the Mitchell transition requires approval from regulators in both the Mountain State and the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Virginia State Corporation Commission already denied this deal, according to the PSC.

In its Friday order, the PSC stated ruling on the Mitchell plan is “not realistic or reasonable at this time,” citing the “regulatory roadblocks in other jurisdictions.”

The PSC said the West Virginia oil and Natural Gas Association, the Building Trades Council, the Sierra Club and the AFL-CIO are among those who are intervening in the Mitchell case.

In the same order, the PSC approved Appalachian Power’s request to purchase the remaining two-thirds of the John E. Amos 3 generation unit, located along the Kanawha River in Winfield, W.Va. There will be no impact on rates as a result of this transaction, according to the PSC.

The PSC said Appalachian Power sought permission to acquire the Amos generation capacity because of a “significant deficit in generating capacity to serve their West Virginia customers.”