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May 29 Field Trip to PSC Public Hearing in Charleston
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by Carol Nix, Chapter Energy Committee | 2013

First Person:I Was There!

On May 29, two vans full of Sierra Club supporters and friends made their way from Morgantown to Charleston. We travelers were prepared to testify at a “public hearing” held by the WV Public Service Commission regarding the proposed transfer of the old Harrison power plant to Mon Power.
When we arrived, the beautiful hearing room was packed with some of the finest suits we had ever seen. Soon disabused of the notion that this would actually be a “public” hearing we, the public, were cordially reminded that written comments were already on record, which counts as being “heard.” Some of us had come from the Eastern Panhandle, some from Fairmont, but most had driven the three hours from Morgantown. Some had taken off work to be there. Some had risen at three o’clock, but most had slept till five that lovely morning. No matter, we were not to be heard.
Three of our number did manage to finagle (don’t ask) a few minutes of face time with the three commissioners. Jim Sconyers told them how much cheaper the CFLs were across the Maryland border, thanks to First Energy’s efficiency programs in Maryland. Doug Gilbert bravely admitted poverty, and on behalf of some of the poorest people in the nation (us), asked the good gentlemen not to saddle us with this $1.2 billion debt. Emilie Marlier spoke about the unexplainable recalcitrance of Mon Power to modernize the street lights in Morgantown, costing that fair city not less than $100,000 per year. She also put in a word for all the contractors, carpenters, and handymen who might be expected to put food on their tables by putting insulation in our attics. Fist bumps to these heroes!

Representatives from the WV Sierra Club and other citizen groups deliver letters of protest to the
Governor’s Office in opposition to First Energy’s proposal to transfer ownership of its Harrison Power
Station to West Virginia subsidiary Monongahela Power.  
photo by Chris Dorst, courtesy of the Charleston Gazette (used with permission)
Then off to the Capitol we all went, to see the gleaming marble and Governor’s beautiful secretary. We wanted to see Governor Tomlin, but were told he was “not in.” It took three of us to carry the more than 1,200 citizen comments against this power plant transfer. Some of those comments were postcards, some were online comments, and some were handwritten on lined paper. Perhaps one was yours.  We delivered them all, in front of half a dozen reporters with cameras and mike’s, to one of the Governor’s aides, who accepted them with grace and without comment. Now begins the wait, while the Commission decides our fate.

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