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PSC to hear from public on Wheeling power outages, rate hike request

WHEELING, W.Va. — The state Public Service Commission is set to begin a series of public hearings regarding proposed rate increases for Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power customers in West Virginia.

Charlotte Lane

The first hearing will be Ohio County Courthouse in Wheeling at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

PSC Chairman Charlotte Lane said the public comment period comes at a time when many Wheeling residents are working to recover from last week’s derecho that knocked off power to thousands of customers for days.

“It’s a very timely hearing that we’re having because it comes on the heels of these severe outages that they had,” Lane told MetroNews Tuesday.

Lane said the PSC’s first order of business will be to address concerns about the recent storm and then will take questions about the power companies’ rate hike request.

The companies are seeking a $297 million rate increase, which, if granted would increase the average residential customer’s monthly bill by $18.41 starting in September.

“We have had a lot of protests about this, and understandably so,” Lane said.

More than 100 trees were down at Wheeling Park following the storm. Photo by Glenn Elliott

Reasons for the proposed increase includes high fuel costs and pandemic-related expenses.

Customers will be allowed to voice their thoughts in person, by mail or online. Representatives from Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power will be on site at each hearing to speak with residents.

“It serves a dual purpose,” Lane said. “We will listen to the customers and then the customers will have the opportunity to ask the utility people questions.”

Lane said the PSC has been actively notifying the public to make sure they hear from as many people as possible.

“We have sent out press releases and we have notified all legislators in the area and county officials that we are holding this public hearing. We hope to have a good turn out so we can hear what’s on people’s minds,” she said.

The commission will hold three additional hearings listed below:

  • June 27: Mercer County Courthouse in Princeton at 5:30 p.m.
  • June 28: Cabell County Courthouse in Huntington at 5: 30 p.m.
  • July 26: PSC headquarters in Charleston at 5:30 p.m.

There will be an evidentiary hearing after that before the PSC makes a final decision in September.

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