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BLUEFIELD — Many people are complaining about higher electric bills this winter, and an AEP spokesman said they are a little higher from last year because of an adjustment made to help the company pay for extra expenses.

Phil Moye, AEP spokesman, said customers will see a slight increase this winter based on that adjustment.

“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 adjustment made last year after approval of the Public Service Commission (PSC) to compensate AEP for its extra expenses related to increased fuel costs and to rights-of-way tree trimming and maintenance.

No change 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.

Moye said the amount of the adjustment depends on the usage.

For example, he said, for a customer who uses 1,000 kilowatt hours a month, the bill this winter would be $138.58. Last winter, that bill would have been $126,89, $11.70 less.

A customer who uses 2,000 kilowatt hours this winter will see 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.

Moye said the best way to compare is to look at bills from last winter, find similar usage and then look at costs.

But bills always fluctuate, depending on the weather.

“The usage around this time of year is highest for those who heat with electricity,” he said, pointing to heat pumps and space heaters. “They are costly.”

Moye said AEP offers a plan that helps even out the power bills over the course of a year so customers are not facing huge bills for high usage months.

Customers can also lower their thermostats a little as well to save on usage.

Although some think Christmas lights drive up electric bills significantly, Moye said that is not the case unless “you are decorated like the house in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” Most lights are now LED and they need less power.

High usage items, besides the heat pump and space heaters, include the air conditioner, hot water heater, electric stove and dryer, he said.

Moye said it’s also a good idea to replace old appliances with newer ones because they are more energy efficient.

Anyone wanting to keep a closer eye on their bills can also register an online account with AEP, he added.

Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline. com.

— Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com

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