Report: WV Utility Continues to Push Coal, Despite Climate, Ratepayer Costs


West Virginia utilities are delaying actions which could help put the brakes on climate change and ease the burden of rising fuel costs on ratepayers, according to a recent Sierra Club report.

The analysis of more than seventy utilities nationwide found most invested in fossil-fuel generation, despite continued pledges and commitments to stop reliance on coal and gas.

Jim Kotcon, conservation chair of the Sierra Club’s West Virginia chapter, explained in West Virginia, Monongahela Power, owned by FirstEnergy Corp, received a grade of “F” when it comes to actions the company has taken to reach its stated climate goal of reducing carbon emissions by 30% by 2030.

“This utility is continuing to burn coal, and they just recently received approval for upgrades that will extend the life of these coal-fired power plants until at least 2040,” Kotcon pointed out. “That’s putting a lot of burden on us ratepayers, because we really need to be out of coal by 2030.”

Among the utilities graded in the report, 70% received a failing grade. Only one received an “A.” The Edison Electric Institute, which represents electric companies, argued the report does not consider utility transitions holistically, or take into account affordability.

Kotcon added the state’s Public Service Commission also is considering a request from Appalachian Power Company for approximately an 18% rate increase because of the increased cost of coal. He added the commission has not expressed an interest to look for alternative sources of power, such as solar, wind or other renewables.

“What makes even less sense is that just economically, West Virginia ratepayers are being asked to pay exorbitant rate increases when renewable-energy sources are cheaper,” Kotcon contended.

Studies have shown West Virginia residents are among the most vulnerable when it comes to climate change-related flooding and extreme heat.

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