The West Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC) has issued a series of legal rulings favoring Energy America, Inc., developer of a qualifying cogeneration facility (QF), in a complaint proceeding to enforce Wheeling Power Co.'s power-purchase obligation under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA). The PSC ruled that Wheeling should be viewed as a stand-alone company, not a part of the American Electric Power (AEP) system as alleged by the utility. Wheeling generates no power and purchases virtually all of its power needs from Ohio Power Co., a member of the AEP system. Wheeling is not, however, a signatory to the AEP Integration Agreement.The PSC said that under Wheeling's interpretation it would have to examine the power needs of any current seller of bulk power when faced with a PURPA complaint against a nongenerating utility, a result required by neither law nor logic. Since Wheeling generates none of its power needs, it must always be in the market for additional power and has a duty to seek alternative supplies and modify its existing supply contracts if rates do not benefit customers.
The PSC also ruled that the proper measure of avoided cost for Wheeling's QF purchases would be the month-by-month FERC rate that the utility pays Ohio Power for its wholesale purchases. The PSC would not, however, allow an offset from the Ohio Power contract rate for any minimum demand charges greater than those proposed in Ohio Power's most recent FERC filing. It said the current minimum demand charges appear to discriminate against Wheeling when compared to those levied against Ohio Power's other customers. Energy America, Inc. v. Wheeling Power Co., case No. 93-1016-E-C, Aug. 10, 1995 (W.Va. P.S.C.).