Media

West Virginians For Energy Freedom statement on legislative bailout for FirstEnergy

FirstEnergy continues to put West Virginia taxpayers on the hook for its failing business model. This B&O tax bailout was not the first, nor will it be the last, time FirstEnergy has asked for a government handout. When will these corporate giveaways end?

The 40-year-old Pleasants Power Station can no longer compete in a 21st-century energy marketplace. Over $12 million a year in avoided B&O tax payments falls far short of offsetting its future losses and remains a bad deal for West Virginians. Sadly, the State Legislature has capitulated to FirstEnergy's demands.

West Virginia needs to be looking forward, not propping up old power plants that can no longer compete on their own merits. West Virginians for Energy Freedom sees this for what it is: the latest in a series of rent-seeking behaviors from a bankrupt Ohio-based company.

About West Virginians For Energy Freedom

PHOTOS BY ROGER MAY  These people are some of the West Virginia residents who spoke out against FirstEnergy's bid for corporate welfare at the PSC's Public Hearings in Parkersburg, Martinsburg and Morgantown. More than 100 people spoke at the Public Comment Hearings. Of those, 71 opposed FirstEnergy's bailout attempt.

PHOTOS BY ROGER MAY
These people are some of the West Virginia residents who spoke out against FirstEnergy's bid for corporate welfare at the PSC's Public Hearings in Parkersburg, Martinsburg and Morgantown. More than 100 people spoke at the Public Comment Hearings. Of those, 71 opposed FirstEnergy's bailout attempt.

West Virginians For Energy Freedom is a coalition of your neighbors, organizations in your community, local businesses, municipalities and elected officials advocating for energy freedom in West Virginia.

Here's a summary of our advocacy for West Virginians and energy freedom during FirstEnergy's case before the Public Service Commission of West Virginia. More than 2,500 letters of protest and petitions against FirstEnergy were posted to the PSC docket. Only 51 letters of support were registered.

Our current campaign: Legalizing power purchase agreements for on-site renewable energy sources during the next full session of the legislature.

WVPB Report: Renewable Energy Outpaces Coal For First Time in the U.S.

Solar panels arriving in Fayette County. Photo by Colleen Laffey for West Virginia Public Radio.

Solar panels arriving in Fayette County. Photo by Colleen Laffey for West Virginia Public Radio.

Renewable energy recently generated more electricity than coal, and federal energy officials expect more of the same. Many states are poised to benefit from the surge in renewable energy, but not West Virginia.

Jamie Van Nostrand, a law professor and head of WVU Law Center for Energy and Sustainable Development, says West Virginia hasn’t kept up with policy changes, including Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs).

“All the other states are taking advantage of both the low electricity rates, and the jobs that go along with clean energy. …And we are totally missing that in West Virginia,” said Jamie Van Nostrand in an interview with West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Listen to the full West Virginia Public Broadcasting report by Brittany Patterson. Then take a few minute so email your lawmakers to keep PPAs on their radar for the next full session.

PPAs get a plug in report on WV’s need for more diverse energy generation

In a recent WV News analysis of West Virginia’s power generation, a state Office of Energy official said legalizing power purchase agreements (PPAs) would encourage more diversity, especially in the solar sector.

Coal remains West Virginia’s primary source of energy, but experts agree generation must change to be competitive with other states and to meet the growing number of corporations moving to using only renewables such as solar.

Kelly Bragg, energy development specialist with the West Virginia Office of Energy, believes third-party PPAs are one way WV could diversify its power generation sector and attract new electricity users and economic investment. Here’s an excerpt from the April 13 WV News story:

Kelly Bragg

Kelly Bragg

Although coal still dominates the state’s energy generation interest in renewable sources of energy are increasing, Bragg said.

“I think we’re moving in a diverse direction. There’s a lot of support for new projects,” she said.

The state is particularly lacking in utility-scale solar energy projects, Bragg said. “We are the only one of 11 states in the northeast region that does not have a single utility-scale solar project,” she said. “That is a number that I would certainly like to see changed.”

There are several steps the state could take to encourage more solar activity, Bragg said.

One is called a Third-Party Power Purchase Agreement, which makes it more attractive for property owners to install solar panels on their homes or commercial buildings, Bragg said.

“Basically it allows people to pay a smaller monthly fee for their solar system, as opposed to coming up with the full amount up front,” she said. “It’s a contractual relationship between the building owner and the solar installer which currently is not allowed here.”

Read the full WV News report by Charles Young and leave a comment to show your support for PPAs.

West Virginians For Energy Freedom made headway during the last legislative session with the introduction of two bills that would legalize PPAs for on-site renewable and alternative energy generation facilities. While the bills stalled in committee, our campaign demonstrates that West Virginia homeowners, businesses, municipalities, schools, and nonprofits are eager to generate their own electricity and save money with renewable energy.

Want to get involved in our #PPAs4WV campaign? Here are three ways:

  1. Sign up today to join us and get occasional updates on our efforts.

  2. Email your legislators and ask them to support PPAs and energy freedom.

  3. Encourage your city, town, company, business, church, school/university or nonprofit to join our coalition.

Letter to the Editor: Urge WV Legislature to support measures on environment (Gazette Opinion)

"Twenty-six states including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and Maryland, have passed legislation to make power purchase agreements legal, thus enabling third-party financing/development of distributed energy systems using solar panels or landfill bio-gas, for example. In fact, we will have the opportunity to support PPAs here, when bipartisan legislation is introduced in the Legislature very soon, writes Holly Cloonan of Charleston in a Letter to the Editor in the Jan. 25 issue of the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Read the full letter.

Charles Town mayor advocates for power purchase agreements

Solar Panels are installed on a Morgan County roof. Scott Rogers, Mayor of Charles Town, has come out in support of third-party power purchase agreements, and he is advocating for the 2019 state legislature to legalize their use. Journal file photo

Solar Panels are installed on a Morgan County roof. Scott Rogers, Mayor of Charles Town, has come out in support of third-party power purchase agreements, and he is advocating for the 2019 state legislature to legalize their use. Journal file photo

Jan. 15, 2019, The (Martinsburg) Journal

Calling them an “excellent opportunity for the state,” Scott Rogers, mayor of Charles Town, has come out in support of third-party power purchase agreements, and he is advocating for the 2019 state Legislature to legalize their use.

EnergyFreedomWV.org explains that PPAs allow a third-party developer to install, own and operate energy-generating equipment such as a windmill or solar panels on a customer’s property with the customer’s consent. The customer can then purchase the electric output at an agreed upon fixed rate for a predetermined period of time, usually 15-25 years.

Rogers said this system is a way to diversify state energy markets, and he said it would reduce the impact of what he calls “boom and bust” cycles associated with the current utility rates.

Read the full article.

Opinion: Energy freedom in W.Va. starts with power purchase agreements

Charles Town Mayor Scott Rogers makes the case in The (Martinsburg) Journal that Power Purchase Agreements are needed in West Virginia.

“The time is now for the people to encourage and challenge their lawmakers to move forward with this innovative policy option.”

Thanks, Mayor Rogers, for supporting the #PPAs4WV campaign and advocating for energy freedom in West Virginia.

Read the Opinion piece.