CHARLESTON — Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power filed Friday with the Public Service Commission of West Virginia for a rate increase which could increase residential electric bills by almost $14 a month.
Appalachian Power, along with Wheeling Power, submitted Expanded Net Energy Cost (ENEC) and Vegetation Management Program (VMP) filings to the Public Service Commission of West Virginia (PSC) and outlined a proposal to partially offset the proposed ENEC and VMP increases using federal tax reform savings, according to a press released issued Friday afternoon by Appalachian Power.
The ENEC reimburses the company on a dollar-for-dollar basis for coal and natural gas to fuel power plants and for purchased power, according to company officials. The VMP reimburses the company for right-of-way vegetation management.
Back in June of 2012, a powerful storm known as a dericho went across southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia, knocking down trees and power lines. The destruction left thousands of customers without power for days. Susan Small, a spokesperson for the West Virginia PSC, said that the commission mandated after this storm that power companies do more to keep their transmission lines free of vegetation.
“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,” Chris Beam, Appalachian Power president and COO said.
If the filings are approved by the PSC, a residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month will see an increase of $13.88 or 10.9 percent.
The power company is proposing to increase ENEC rates by $82 million and VMP rates by $70 million. Company officials said these increases are needed to allow the company to recover ongoing ENEC and VMP costs as well as approximately $90 million of unrecovered ENEC and VMP costs already incurred through the end of 2019. As a way to moderate the increases, the company proposes to use the remaining tax reform balance of $52 million from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which would result in a net rate increase of $100 million. The last increase in rates associated with ENEC and VMP costs came in July 2016.
Small said Friday that PSC staff memos about Appalachian Power’s application were not due until the end of May, so she was not expecting a decision before that time.
Jeri H. Matheney, director of communications for Appalachian Power, said that new rates would become effective July 1 if the request is approved.
A decision about whether to hold public hearings had not been made yet, but how many public comments the PSC receives and where they come from help determine where these hearings would be held, Small said.
Residents who want to comment about Appalachian Power’s application can write the Public Service Commission at 201 Brooks Street, Charleston, WV 25323. The case’s number, 20-0260-E-P, in their letters. Comments can be left on the PSC’s website at www.psc.state.wv, too.
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