The West Virginia Legislature has approved H.B. 4435, a measure authorizing the Public Service Commission (PSC) to approve expedited cost recovery of electric utility coal-fired boiler modernization and improvement projects.
A final version of the bill was passed by the legislature on March 11 and now to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) for his signature.
“West Virginia is experiencing a significant downturn in the coal industry as a result of increasing environmental regulation and increased competition from natural gas and oil,” according to the text of the bill.
“A comprehensive program of modernizing, upgrading and improving coal-fired boilers at existing West Virginia power plants owned by electric utilities at reasonable cost to ratepayers, will benefit the customers of the electric utilities, the public in West Virginia and the economy of the state as a whole,” according to the measure.
“Electric utilities may file with the commission an application for a multiyear comprehensive program for modernizing and improving coal-fired boilers at power plants located in this state and owned, in whole or in part, by the electric utility,” according to the bill.
“Subject to commission review and approval, a program may be amended and updated by the electric utility as circumstances warrant. The recovery of costs in support of the program shall be allowed in the manner set forth in this section if the proposed program and related rates are found to be just, reasonable, and based on prudent investments that are used and useful to the utilities’ West Virginia ratepayers,” according to the bill.