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Appalachian Power seeks approval to buy Amos and Mitchell plants

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Appalachian Power Co. filed with the Public Service Commission of West Virginia Dec. 18 seeking approval to purchase portions of the Amos and Mitchell coal-fired power plants from Ohio Power Co.

The purpose of the proposed generation transfer, Appalachian Power said, is to meet the demand of its ratepayers when parent company AEP's existing power pool — in which subsidiaries buy and sell power among themselves — is dissolved in January 2014.

In the proposal, Appalachian Power would buy Ohio Power's interest in unit 3 at the John Amos power plant in Putnam County and half of Mitchell, in Ohio near Moundsville, for a total increase in generation capacity of 1,647 megawatts.

Kentucky Power Co. would purchase the other half of Mitchell from Ohio Power. As part of the plan, Kentucky Power would shut down one unit of the Big Sandy Power plant at Louisa, Ky., near Huntington.

A similar plan filed recently with the commission by FirstEnergy would transfer coal-fired assets from an Ohio subsidiary to Mon Power.

AEP's and FirstEnergy's Ohio subsidiaries are undergoing electricity market deregulation; critics of these proposals note that transfer of coal-fired assets subject to increasing environmental regulation to West Virginia's regulated market would shield them from competition with cheaper natural gas-fired generation and would guarantee the utilities a return on their investments at the expense of ratepayers.

AEP seeks a decision in the complex filing in June 2013.

The filing is here; or follow case number 12-1655 on the Public Service Commission of West Virginia's website.