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CHARLESTON — Area residents could see another increase in their power bills.

Appalachian Power Company has filed with the state Public Service Commission for increased rates, tolls and charges.

Those new rates would impact customers in Mercer, McDowell, Monroe and Summers counties.

If the request is approved, the average residential customer would see a monthly increase of $5.26 cents, or a 3.71 percent hike. Commercial uses would see monthly bills rise on average of $12.37 (3.52 percent), and industrial customers would see another $5,686 added to monthly bills on average, or 4.42 percent.

The proposed increases would produce about $49.8 million annually in additional revenue for the company, an overall increase of 3.4 percent.

This proposal is subject to changes by the PSC and any rate increases would not be effective until after PSC approval.

Wheeling Power Company is also part of the proposal.

Due to the pandemic, a public comment period will be held by videoconference on June 8 at 9:30 a.m. The PSC will hold an evidentiary hearing after the public comment period.

A slight increase in bills was already in place this winter, sparking some customer complaints.

Phil Moye, AEP spokesman, recently said customers did not see a rate increase, but there were extra charges on their bills.

“Our base rates have stayed the same, but we have had some adjustments,” he said. “It is a little different (higher) than last year.”

The adjustments made last year after approval of the PSC was to compensate AEP for its extra expenses related to increased fuel costs and to rights-of-way tree trimming and maintenance.

No adjustment had been made for those expenses since 2016, he said, and it’s a matter of adjusting the amount collected from customers to match the costs paid out.

“Over time, costs have risen, and these filings seek to address that reality so that the amount being collected in customer rates matches the amount of costs that the company is incurring for fuel, purchased power and vegetation management costs,” said Chris Beam, Appalachian Power president and COO, in the request for approval to the PSC.

For a customer who used 1,000 kilowatt hours a month this winter, the bill would have been $138.58. Last winter, that bill would have been $126,89, $11.70 less.

A customer who used 2,000 kilowatt hours this winter would have seen a bill of $228.21. That same usage last year saw a bill for $205.48, he said. For every 1,000 kilowatt hours, an additional $11.70 is added, and prorated for usage totals in between.

Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com

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