Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

December 1, 2011

SCC OK’s APCO rate hike: Virginia customers expected to see $7-per-month increase

BLUEFIELD, Va. — The Virginia State Corporation Commission announced Wednesday afternoon that it has approved a pair of rate increases for customers of Appalachian Power Co. – one related to a biennial base rate review, and the other meant to recover environmental expenses.

The combined increases amount to $85.1 million — a sum that will increase the monthly power bill for APCO’s Virginia customers by $7 per month, based on the average usage of 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity.

“The important thing for our customers in Virginia to know is that these rate increases won’t take effect until February,” Todd Burns, APCO spokesman said. “Overall, our rates are down 10 percent on the year, and hopefully they’ll stay that way through February.”

Burns said that APCO intentionally scheduled the rate increase request to take effect in February to minimize the impact on customers. “We filed four rate increase requests in March,” Burns said. “The SCC granted a one-half percent renewable rate increase earlier this year. We still have one rate increase outstanding. We tried to structure this request so it wouldn’t hit our customers so hard.” Burns said that the rate increases are a result of increases in the cost of producing electricity.

“I was disappointed to hear that the SCC approved the rate increase,” State Delegate J.W. “Will” Morefield, R-Tazewell said. “I went to Abingdon, Va., to speak out against this rate increase. Over the past two years, I’ve made it a priority to tell the General Assembly the impact these rate increases have on the people of Southwest Virginia.”

Morefield said that the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s tighter controls on the coal industry and more stringent regulations on coal-fired power generation have had an impact on life in the region.

“I’ve been out on the streets talking to people who are struggling. Ultimately, we need to apply common sense principles on the state and federal levels to create meaningful and effective legislation,” Morefield said.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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