Mon Power Responds About Its RFP to Buy a Power Plant

Back on February 14th, AMR interviewed Cathy Kunkel of West Virginians for Energy Freedom who expressed concerns Mon Power’s recent Request for Proposal (RFP) to purchase a 1300 Mega Watt electrical generation plant. They believe the RFP is really just Mon Power’s attempt bail out its parent company First Energy by purchasing First Energy’s coal-fired Pleasant Power Plant. Kunkel said buying the  Pleasant Plant would help First Energy by transferring  that unprofitable plant’s losses from First Energy’s stockholders to Mon Power electricity customers. Listen as Kunkel says the RFP’s requirements almost guarantee that the Pleasant Power Plant will be the only successful offer on the RFP.

“They issued an RFP for 1300 megawatts of capacity and they restricted it to a relatively small geographic area that includes the 1300 megawatt Pleasant Power Plant” said Kunkel. “And then they layer on some additional restrictions about wanting a plant that could burn West Virginia coal, which again dramatically restricts the scope. And so, at the end of the day the RFP very strongly point’s toward Pleasant, which again is what the parent company said it wants to do all along.”

Kunkel also told us that Mon Power doesn’t need the extra generation ability because that the Mid-Atlantic Power Grid Operator has said that Mon Power already has a surplus of generation that will last until at least 2020.

We contacted Todd Meyers, a Spokesman for Mon Power to get his response to these claims.  Meyers said he could not comment directly on those allegations because Mon Power still does not know who responded to the RFP since the responses to the RFP  were sent directly to an independent consultant – Charles Rivers Associates-  who will review them before forwarding them  to Mon Power who as yet still does not know who sent offers in response to the RFP.

Meyers would, however talk about the RFPAs to the type of fuel used by a bidding plant, Meyers said the RFP only requires that the plant burn either Coal -as the Pleasants Power Plant does – or Natural Gas. We later verified that the RFP does either of those fuels. Meyers said there is only restriction on the type of fuel would exclude alternative energies such as wind or solar and explains why.

“Because we need it for capacity, it needs to be something that’s not intermittent” said Meyers.

He went on to explain intermittent energies won’t work because  PJM Interconnection LLC the regional energy market regulator requires that during energy peak usage emergencies, additional energy must be immediately available at any time and if they are not available, huge fines will be levied against Mon Power. Alternative fuels are not always available such as when the wind stops or clouds block sunlight.

Meyers also explained why the RFP’s geographical area was limited to the APS distribution zone – West Penn Power’s area in Pennsylvania, Mon Power’s area in West Virginia and Potomac Edison’s area in Maryland and the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. He said that if a generating unit fails to provide its promised power from sources within the APS zone during a PJM emergency event huge fines are imposed.  Power plants located outside of the APS zone, cannot be used to meet an APS area emergency event.  Meyers added that Mon Power is attempting to sell its interest in the Bath County Pumped Storage Project for the same reasons since the power generated there is both intermittent and located outside of the APM Zone.

Meyers says why Mon Power needs to expand its generating capacity.

“One of the main drivers of our capacity shortfall is the Marcellus Shale industry” said Meyers. “It uses tremendous amounts of electricity. What really chewed up a cushion we had before is these Mid-Stream Plants out there. It’s very energy intensive -40 -50 megawatts- they use a lot of electricity and there is more and more of these plants coming on line. A single plant like that is as big a customer as any Mon Power ever had.”

Meyers says these plants use cryogenics to lower the temperatures a hundred degrees or more below zero to separate the propane and other byproducts from the natural gas. To put it into perspective, Meyers says a single megawatt is the amount of electricity needed to power a thousand homes.

Once Mon Power selects which plant it will buy, West Virginians for Energy Freedom, Mon Power and other groups can present their cases to the WV Public Service Commission who will have to approve the purchase.

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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