Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power seeking 17 percent rate hike

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Officials with Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power are proposing a double-digit rate increase for the company’s customers. On Monday, the companies — which are subsidiaries of American Electric Power — filed a request for a proposed base rate increase of 17 percent with the state Public Service Commission.

Those with Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power said the increase is needed to recover costs tied to system maintenance and upgrades along with major storm restoration efforts — including the derecho and Superstorm Sandy in 2012 — plus a new vegetation management program.

The filing came two years and one day after the derecho. “We’ve made several operational changes as a result of that and we have not sought to recover costs from that storm or from Superstorm Sandy yet,” Phil Moye, spokesperson for Appalachian Power, told MetroNews.

“Anytime that there are increased costs, it does put a burden on customers and we really try to balance keeping our costs as low as we can with being able to provide as reliable a service as we can.”

For Appalachian Power’s residential customers using 1,000 KWH each month, the proposed 17 percent increase would take their current monthly bill of $94 up to $115.77.

Those with the company said costs have been rising steadily for several years, while base rates have remained the same since 2011. Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power officials said they’ve cuts costs and made reductions to their workforce and implemented an efficiency program, but it has not been enough.

Members of the PSC will have to approve the request. If it’s approved, the increase would generate an additional $226 million each year for Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power. The higher rates could take effect as soon as next summer.

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