W.Va. turns down utility’s request to buy 2 turbine farms

Source: By Max Garland, Charleston Gazette-Mail • Posted: Tuesday, June 5, 2018

West Virginia regulators have rejected a proposal by Appalachian Power to buy two wind projects that would have added 225 megawatts of power to the utility’s portfolio.

Appalachian had sought to acquire the Beech Ridge II Wind Facility and the Ohio-sited Hardin Wind Facility LLC in July 2017, proposing a $84.6 million surcharge to be paid over a decade by ratepayers.

The state’s Public Service Commission found last Wednesday that the proposal was “not in the public interest in West Virginia.” Staff counsel had estimated that the project would cost ratepayers $50 million more than if the utility were to buy power instead.

The staff also cited Virginia regulators’ rejection of the company’s request to recover costs, and warned that it could shift more costs to West Virginians.

“Given the lack of need for the capacity from the Wind Facilities, it might seem an imprudent decision to place the above cited long-term base rate cost responsibility on West Virginia ratepayers,” commissioners wrote in the final order.

Appalachian had said the acquisition would bring a net benefit to customers over the projects’ life spans, with renewable energy credits and the prospect of a future carbon tax offering additional cost offsets.