Dennis Wamsted at WamstedOnEnergy:
These two aging facilities—the Sammis plant’s newest unit is 45 years old while the oldest is 57; the Davis-Besse facility is 39 years old but it has a history of serious maintenance problems—have been battered by the drop in natural gas prices, the influx of new wind and solar generation, and the continued stagnation in overall electricity demand.
The battering has been so bad that they essentially can’t compete in the current market, and FirstEnergy is asking state regulators to bail them out while hitting customers with new monthly charges that could run into the billions of dollars over the coming eight years.
In its pleadings with the Ohio PUC, FirstEnergy has said the bailout is essential to keep the plants operating, and that the plants, in turn, are needed to maintain reliable, affordable electric supplies in the state—in other words, could I get a little re-regulation here, please.
In defending the company’s proposal, Doug Colafella, a FirstEnergy spokesman, told the Toledo Blade: “We like to think of it as an insurance policy against volatility and the future uncertainty of the marketplace. It’s a concept we think will benefit customers because it considers the long-term volatility of the marketplace.”
That doesn’t sound at all like the pro-competition track laid down by former CEO Alexander (Remember, “competitive markets, over time, will produce the lowest prices for customers.”) or the pro-competition testimony offered just months ago in Maryland regarding renewables (Remember, “competitive markets, not regulatory mandates, provide the most economical solution….”).
Well, the competitive markets have spoken in Ohio (and the broader PJM territory in which FirstEnergy’s generating units operate), and Sammis and Davis-Besse simply can’t compete. This point was driven home by PJM itself in a recent report: “The simple fact that a generating facility cannot earn sufficient market revenue to cover its going-forward costs does not reasonably lead to the conclusion that wholesale markets are flawed,” PJM wrote. “More likely, it demonstrates that the generating facility is uneconomic.”
It’s time for FirstEnergy to stand by its competitive mantra and close those two plants, not seek to soak its customers for billions for plants that are no longer economic.
Full item: FirstEnergy Fails the Test on Utility Competition With Its Bailout Bid