Appalachian Power requests to raise rates $297 million
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Appalachian Power has filed for a $297 million rate increase with the West Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC) under the Expanded Net Energy Cost (ENEC) surcharge.
The ENEC reimburses companies for fuel power plants and for purchased power. Appalachian Power said the rate increase is to help the utility company deal with the rising costs of coal and natural gas.
Currently, the monthly bill for an Appalachian Power residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours is $155.66. If approved as filed, the adjustment would add $18.41 to that amount. Appalachian Power spokesperson Phil Moye told WSAZ some families use more than 2,000 kilowatt-hours per month which would mean a $36 per month increase.
The PSC said ENEC can be reviewed every year and often makes up one-third of a customer’s power bill. This request represents an additional 12% on Appalachian Power bills.
“This is not a case where we are making a profit off something or building new infrastructure or something like that, it’s all about the fuel that it takes to provide electricity,” Moye said. “Unfortunately, we use a lot of fuel to produce the electricity.”
The Kanawha County Commission released a statement Wednesday, objecting to Appalachian Power’s filing and said customers are not able to afford constant rate increases.
Appalachian Power asked the PSC to approve new surcharges to cover the cost of opening renewable energy plants in other states in February. A ruling has not been made for that request.
The PSC approved an infrastructure improvement plan surcharge for the company in June of 2021, leading to an increase of 6.12% on the monthly bills.
“This is nothing more than corporate greed, and it is time that we stop it,” Commissioner Ben Salango said. “This is the second rate increase by Appalachian Power in two months. This latest rate increase is going to increase your bill by about $19 per month, which is absolutely ridiculous. We’re objecting to the rate increase for a number of reasons. People can’t do this. You can’t keep raising rates every single month, every year. They’ve actually increased your utility bill 150% in the last ten years.”
“Our citizens cannot afford any additional rate increases by the public utility companies,” Commission President Kent Carper said in a statement. “I am initially calling for a moratorium on these back-to-back rate hikes. I am also calling upon the West Virginia Legislature to exert oversight on public utilities and stop this ridiculous, continuous attack on the people of West Virginia.”
No hearing date has been set on when the PSC will decide if this increase request is approved. Appalachian Power wants the increase to take effect September 1, 2022.
“With the steep and rapid rise in energy and fuel costs over the past several months, the ENEC revenues we collect from customers have been and are projected to be significantly less than the cost of the energy provided to customers,” said Chris Beam, Appalachian Power president and COO. “The longer that goes on the greater the deficit grows, and that’s what necessitates this request.”
Appalachian Power has 1 million customers in Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee as AEP Appalachian Power.
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