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New Statewide Coalition on Electricity in West Virginia launched

By Staff | Jun 24, 2011

A new grassroots coalition has been launched in West Virginia. The Coalition for Reliable Power is a West Virginia citizens’ association dedicated to increasing the reliability of the West Virginia and U.S. electrical systems through sensible improvements to our electric generation, distribution and transmission systems. Our mission is to create a vital public conversation about reliable electrical power and real alternatives to our dangerously centralized electrical grid.

The Coalition for Reliable Power will focus on particular, practical steps that regulators, industry and citizens can take to build a more reliable electrical system in our state. The coalition’s Web site, www.forreliablepower.com, includes tools that citizens and businesses can use immediately to engage regulators and political leaders in the conversation about West Virginia energy policy. The site also includes a blog that provides regular posts by coalition founders Bill Howley of Chloe and Keryn Newman of Shepherdstown. The two developed their blogging skills, along with an online following, during the three-year odyssey of the failed PATH transmission project.

Howley has hope for the state’s energy future. “In the last few years, we have seen big jumps in electric rates, a weeklong 2009 blackout on both Appalachian Power’s and Mon Power’s distribution systems, and the collapse of an expensive and unneeded transmission line project. Even Appalachian Power’s CEO has clearly stated that over-dependence coal is the reason for West Virginia’s rising electric rates. So we can sit by and watch the mismanagement of our state’s electrical system, or we can invest in diversifying our energy sources and creating jobs and new businesses by building an innovative and reliable electricity infrastructure in West Virginia,” said Howley.

The Coalition for Reliable Power believes that West Virginians need to take responsibility for our own electrical system, just as we expect people in other states to take care of themselves. Self-reliance, innovation and flexibility are the basic elements of a reliable electrical system, and the building blocks for West Virginia’s energy future.

The Coalition initially will focus on two main issues:

Appointment of a new PSC Commissioner on July 1 who is knowledgeable about the concerns of average citizens, who places the reliability of West Virginia’s electrical system first and who will protect property owners and businesses from the self-serving projects of out of state corporations. We need creative solutions to our state’s utility and energy future.

Following up on their success with HCR 149, which was passed by the West Virginia legislature earlier this year. The Resolution urges the West Virginia Public Service Commission to review the condition of the Pruntytown to Mt. Storm 500kV transmission line owned by Monongahela Power, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy, and order the rebuilding and re-conductoring of that transmission line as soon as is practical.

“Rebuilding existing lines will increase capacity and reliability without destructive, expensive and unneeded new transmission projects, such as PATH and MAPP. Rebuilding aged, inefficient transmission lines is cheaper, faster and requires no new rights-of-way,” said Newman. “The impacts of Dominion Power’s rebuild of the Mt. Storm-Doubs line on PATH’s fate shows the potential for improving the reliability and capacity of the grid without boondoggle projects that hurt property owners and rate payers.”

Coalition membership is free and open to all citizens, businesses and organizations who want to become involved in a new approach to building the electrical grid in our state by engaging citizens, legislators, regulators and energy corporations in finding practical, innovative solutions that provide solid benefits to West Virginians as the state moves forward into a new energy future. While the Coalition focuses on West Virginia, membership is not limited to only West Virginians. We welcome all who wish to be involved in this important conversation, and encourage members to take similar action in their own states.