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Appalachian Power, Wheeling Power File 17 Percent Rate Increase

Reported by: Send eMail Jeff Morris
Reported: Jun. 30, 2014 5:08 PM EDT
Updated: Jul. 1, 2014 12:59 PM EDT
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Power Rate Hikes
MGN Online/FEMA Photo

Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia

Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power, both subsidiaries of American Electric Power (AEP), Monday filed a request with the Public Service Commission of West Virginia for a $226 million revenue increase.

If approved, the request would raise rates in West Virginia by about 17 percent, according to a news release from the power company. The exact amount of the increase will vary by customer class and usage.

“This is a base rate case the commission required us to file in which we present our costs of doing business,” said Charles Patton, Appalachian Power president and chief operating officer. “It includes things like storm restoration costs from the derecho and Sandy, implementation of a right-of-way maintenance program to improve reliability, and a return that is sufficient to attract capital. Ultimately, the commission will determine the outcome of the request.”

The power company said the increase in revenue is needed to recover increased costs of maintaining and improving distribution and transmission lines and generating plants. These day-to-day costs of an electric utility are recovered in “base rates.” These costs have been rising for the last several years. This increase affects customer rates in West Virginia, where rates have not increased since 2011. During that same period rates for Appalachian’s customers in Virginia and Tennessee have increased.

Rates will not be put into effect until approved by the commission, which can suspend rates for 270 days after July 30, 2014. Upon approval, typical residential customers will see an increase in their electric bills of less than a dollar a day. Residential customers who use 1,000 kilowatt-hours a month will see their monthly bill rise from $94 to $116.

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper met with Patton on Monday regarding the rate request and then later released a statement.

"No one likes a rate increase. However, Appalachian Power has repeatedly stepped up to the plate and brought in extra resources during potential storm events to make sure our power is restored as quickly as possible,” Carper said. “They have instituted a tree trimming program that has cost millions of dollars to ensure that trees are away from the lines to reduce power outages in future storms. The power company has assured me that they will work with customers on payment arrangements for those who need payment assistance. The final decision as to whether the proposed increase will be granted, by law, will be decided at the appropriate time by the West Virginia Public Service Commission.”



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