Curtis Tate Published

Pleasants Or Fort Martin? Mon Power May Have To Choose Just One

White steam billows from one of the concrete cooling towers at the Pleasants Power Station in Pleasants County.
White steam billows from one of the concrete cooling towers at the Pleasants Power Station in Pleasants County.
Janet Kunicki/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The debate over the Pleasants Power Station isn’t just about the future of one power plant.

It’s about two.

Though Mon Power has offered a plan to potentially keep the Pleasants Power Station from closing, it’s been clear about one thing: It does not intend to operate three power plants in West Virginia.

Mon Power already operates the Harrison Power Station in Harrison County and the Fort Martin Power Station in Monongalia County.

It doesn’t really need Pleasants. But the company has testified to the Public Service Commission that it’s weighing whether to purchase Pleasants or upgrade Fort Martin.

Fort Martin is one of the state’s oldest power plants. It lacks an emissions control technology called SCR, which reduces nitrogen oxide.

Company officials have said it would cost about $500 million to install SCR at Fort Martin.

Pleasants has SCR. But as Dave Pinter, director of business development for Mon Power parent company FirstEnergy, told the PSC last week, Pleasants needs other improvements.

“In our modeling, we have a similar-sized number for the retrofits to Pleasants,” he told the PSC in an evidentiary hearing on Friday.

The wastewater treatment and coal ash disposal systems at Pleasants would have to be upgraded to meet federal standards. Among other items, Pinter said the plant needs some boiler work and a landfill expansion.

“There’s a fair amount of deferred items that have gone on in that plant that need to be rectified, and there’s … capital is going to need to be spent,” he said.

The PSC will decide this week whether to approve Mon Power’s request to impose a $3 million a month surcharge on ratepayers so the plant can be kept in operating condition past its planned shutdown at the end of May.

Whether Mon Power ultimately decides to purchase Pleasants or upgrade Fort Martin, it will again come back to the PSC to ask ratepayers for hundreds of millions of dollars more to make those upgrades.