Curtis Tate Published

PSC Chair: EPA Rules Would Threaten W.Va. Power Plant Upgrades

White-haired woman wearing black-rimmed glasses and a pink blazer speaks into a microphone while seated at table.
Public Service Commission Chairman Charlotte Lane speaks during a hearing on Friday, July 21, 2023.
Karen Hall/WV PSC

The chair of the West Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC) has joined the effort to block new federal power plant rules.

PSC Chair Charlotte Lane said U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules would jeopardize hundreds of millions of dollars of investments in the state’s coal fleet.

In 2021, the PSC approved $448 million in upgrades to three Appalachian Power plants to comply with EPA regulations in place at the time. The company’s electricity customers are paying the cost, and the upgrades were supposed to keep the plants operating through 2040.

EPA’s new rules will require them to capture 90 percent of their carbon dioxide or shut down.

In a brief to the U.S. District Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., Lane wrote that carbon capture would be too expensive and the plants would shut down several years earlier than planned.

That would make the investments the PSC approved in 2021 “unnecessary white elephants burdening the ratepayers of West Virginia,” Lane wrote.

In an unsigned order Friday, the D.C. Circuit denied an application for an administrative stay on the power plant rules by Republican states, including West Virginia.

Appalachian Power is an underwriter of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.