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Debbie Dooley: Utilities need competition to keep prices down (Daily Mail)

It’s a simple fact that free-market conservatives generally oppose monopolies.

Conservatives may be stuck living with monopolies in West Virginia, but they don’t have to tolerate the misuse of monopoly power.

At the Green Tea Coalition, we believe FirstEnergy is abusing its power by asking the state Public Service Commission to use its government power to bail out a power plant — the Pleasants Power Station — that it doesn’t think it makes enough money on.

FirstEnergy wants its West Virginia monopoly, Mon Power and Potomac Edison, to buy the plant, which will mean that FirstEnergy gets a guaranteed return on investment of approved costs, instead of having to compete in an open market.

Those costs will be paid for by West Virginians (Mon Power and Potomac Edison customers) through higher rates.

As a lifelong conservative who believes in free-market principles, we believe it is time that giant electric monopolies get competition and consumers deserve to have choices.

We need to set aside our old way of thinking and invest in the new, innovative technology of low-cost energy and diversify our nation’s energy portfolio.

To that end, I co-founded the Green Tea Coalition in 2013 to advocate for solar energy in my home state of Georgia.

The Green Tea Coalition unites activists from the left and right to advocate for sound energy policy that provides choice for the consumer and adds more cost effective, clean energy into our nation’s energy mix.

Conservatives and progressives may not agree on climate change or the importance of fossil fuels, but we do agree we want a clean environment and energy freedom for future generations of Americans.

The people of West Virginia and Georgia have a lot in common regarding energy.

Three years ago, when Georgia’s monopoly utility proposed a massive expansion of electric generation with no energy diversity, we stood up and let them know.

Ultimately, they made changes that brought 800 megawatts of solar power online. Since then, the solar industry has created 1,500 new jobs. As a conservative, you can’t really argue with those numbers.

West Virginians have a similar opportunity to stand up for free-market energy today.

FirstEnergy should not saddle West Virginians with an old, expensive plant that isn’t competitive on the open market.

West Virginia residents can submit comments online or attend public hearings in Martinsburg on Sept. 11, or Morgantown on Sept. 12.

I urge conservatives across West Virginia to make their voice heard in support of free-market energy sources, not government-created, subsidized monopolies.

Debbie Dooley is a founding member of the national Tea Party and a leader of the Atlanta Tea Party, a founder of the Green Tea Coalition, a bi-partisan conservation-minded wing of the Tea Party movement, and president of Conservatives for Energy Freedom. Contact her at debbie@energyfreedom.org.

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