Business, Energy, State Government

Longview Power continues fight against Mon Power/Potomac Edison rate hike request to PSC

MORGANTOWN — While Mon Power continues its case to raise customers’ rates to account for the costs of generating electricity, its neighbor, rival and customer — Longview Power — continues to fight for a smaller hike.

Longview filed its most-recent attempt on Monday, asking the state Public Service Commission to strike some Mon Power testimony filed last Wednesday in the case. Longview said the testimony reflected some calculated deception.

Mon Power and its FirstEnergy sister Potomac Edison are pursuing several rate-hike cases before the PSC. This one is an ENEC case — expended net energy cost — designed to allow utilities to cover their costs of producing power. They are asking for $167,465,330, which they project would add $9.19 to the average monthly residential bill, raising it from $120.20 to $129.39 — a 7.8% hike.

Longview Power in September unsuccessfully moved to have the PSC dismiss $144,805,585 from the case, alleging the costs were imprudent. Then on Nov. 13, Longview CEO Stephen Nelson recommended to the PSC that Mon Power and Potomac Edison retain an experienced, outside consultant, selected by the PSC, to conduct a thorough review of their next ENEC filing, alleging their filings force interveners to “ferret out” the real issues in the case.

And in the same document, Brian Hoyt, Longview’s compliance and environmental manager, who said that the companies purchased more NOx emission allowances than necessary because they failed to properly operate and maintain the NOx emission controls at Fort Martin.

The companies waited too long before purchasing the emission allowances they needed, and bought them at three times the price they should have, he said. Longview recommended disallowing recovery of $42.2 million of excessive 2022 Ozone Season NOx Allowance costs and $18.3 million of 2023 Ozone Season NOx Allowance costs.

In rebuttal testimony, a FirstEnergy representative said that an outside consultant would result in an unnecessary cost for their customers, and that the companies took a measured approach to their emissions controls purchasing, which spared customers potential unnecessary costs.

It its Monday filing, Longview asked to have about 2½ pages of Mon Power/Potomac Edison testimony submitted Nov. 22 stricken. It was a technical discussion in responses to equipment-failure questions at Mon Power’s Harrison Power Station previously submitted by Longview.

Twice in October Longview had requested this information from the companies and both times they refused, saying it was “substantive confidential market information … commercially sensitive to the companies in that it includes costs and/or revenue information and strategies that could be used by competing entities in the market to the detriment of MonPower/PE customers and others.”

Longview would be one of those competitors the companies referred to.

Longview alleged on Monday, “Obviously, the companies only claimed this information was confidential to conceal it from Longview during discovery.” This harms Longview’s ability to make its case by, among other things, barring follow-up questions or testimony.

So, Longview said, the companies should be prevented “from relying on this evidence that they refused to provide to Longview during discovery, while relying on the now obviously false ground that it was confidential business information.”

The companies will submit a response to the PSC regarding Longview’s motion before the PSC decides on the motion.

The companies have two other rate-hike cases pending before the PSC.

One is their base rate hike request: $207.5 million for infrastructure and for their energy assistance program. The hike would cost the average residential customer $18.07 per month — raising a bill from $120.20 to $138.27.

The other is to fund their Vegetation Management Program. It proposes an increase of $16,969,398 to take effect Jan. 1, 2024, and $16,989,110 to take effect Jan. 1, 2025 — for a total of $33,938,795.

They say this reflects an overall 1% increase aggregated against all their customer classes. For the average residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours per month, they project a hike of $2.47 per month, raising the bill from $120.20 to $120.67.


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