Crowd in Huntington speaks out against proposed power rate hike

People urged the West Virginia Public Service Commission not to approve Appalachian Power's request to increase their bills.
Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 11:05 PM EDT
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Tuesday evening, the public got to weigh in on a proposed Appalachian Power rate hike of nearly $300 million.

The power company says the average customer’s bill would go up about $13 a month.

At a hearing held in Cabell County Commission chambers, people already struggling to afford food and gas urged the West Virginia Public Service Commission not to approve the rate hike.

“These corporations and their higher-ups make enough already,” Jessica Eplin said. “They are not struggling, and they can learn to budget like the rest of us.”

The power company says the $297 million increase would allow them to recoup costs from changes in fuel and purchased power.

“This specific case is really about fuel and about the cost that we’ve incurred, as costs have risen dramatically over the past year,” Appalachian Power spokesperson Phil Moye said.

People who spoke to PSC members during the hearing said the increase would be too much.

“My wife and I are on fixed incomes,” Ben Murphy said. “We don’t get a raise with our Social Security or anything.”

Jessica Eplin said it wouldn’t be right to increase their rate when customers have to deal with extended outages.

“My electric goes out at least once a week, more if we have heavy rain or wind,” she said.

“This would be very detrimental for families just trying to make it,” Cabell County Commissioner Kelli Sobonya said.

Another public comment hearing on the issue is scheduled at 5:30 p.m. July 26 at the PSC headquarters in Charleston.

Appalachian Power has said they want to rate increase to go into effect in September.

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