Power plants are responsible for about one quarter of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, and state utility regulators hold enormous sway over the kind of plants that utilities build, when they retire existing plants, and who pays for it all. In both Virginia and West Virginia, Appalmad works with its national, regional, and local partners to advocate for investments in clean energy, timely retirement of fossil-fired plants, and a fair transition to a cleaner grid.
Our work typically starts in long-term planning dockets, where we ensure utilities rely on up-to-date information about the cost-effectiveness and operational benefits of solar, wind, battery storage, and efficiency. We have successfully challenged long-term plans that stack the deck in favor of fossil-fired energy, fail to consider the least-cost options for meeting customer demand, and ignore important developments in energy efficiency.
When utilities decide to move forward with fossil-fueled projects, we’re there to fight back. We recently succeeded in stopping a major shale-gas pipeline, saving Virginia ratepayers millions in stranded assets and forcing the industry to cancel plans for a massive new power plant in a majority-minority community. Projects like these are unnecessary in part because cleaner solutions exist, and so we regularly work with utilities to improve programs aimed at reducing demand, cutting carbon emissions, and ensuring historically disadvantaged communities aren’t left behind.
Finally, Appalmad works on the back-end to make sure utilities—and not their customers—pay for imprudent investments in fossil-fueled energy. We’ve set precedent requiring utilities absorb the cost of projects designed to extend a coal-fired plant’s lifespan unless they can prove that customers aren’t better off retiring the plant and shifting to cleaner generation. While electric utilities attacked this common-sense rule as “drastic” and “onerous,” it has saved ratepayers millions by shielding them from the costs of a utility’s bias against modernizing its fleet. We also push for fair utility rates, and have been successful in warding off rate changes that discourage conservation, efficiency, and rooftop solar or that fall too heavily on low-income customers.