Curtis Tate Published

Coal Operator Files Countersuit Against Appalachian Power

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An Ohio coal company has filed a countersuit against Appalachian Power.

American Consolidated Natural Resources has responded to Appalachian Power’s lawsuit in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas claiming breach of contract.

ACNR said the utility failed to arrange for transportation and accept delivery of coal under contract in 2021, leading to a shortfall at three power plants. Appalachian Power blames ACNR.

ACNR calls Appalachian Power’s lawsuit “frivolous” and “outrageous.” The coal operator, which took over some assets of bankrupt Murray Energy, said the utility filed the lawsuit to counter bad publicity around and opposition to its proposal to raise rates. That price: $297 million.

Appalachian Power and other utilities have cited the higher cost of coal and natural gas in seeking rate increases for their customers. The utility told regulators that it nearly ran out of coal late last year at its three West Virginia plants: Amos, Mountaineer and Mitchell.

The West Virginia Public Service Commission will hear that case next month. Residents and local governments have flooded the PSC’s docket with comments in protest.

Appalachian Power’s lawsuit seeks $45 million in damages. ACNR is seeking at least $50,000.

In an email, Appalachian Power spokesman Phil Moye said he couldn’t comment on the specifics of litigation. But he added that ACNR had failed its commitment to deliver coal.

“We look forward to proving our claims in court and further protecting the interests of our customers,” Moye said.

Both lawsuits were filed in Columbus, Ohio, where Appalachian Power’s parent company, American Electric Power, is based. ACNR is based in St. Clairsville, Ohio.

Appalachian Power is an underwriter of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.