In the 2012 legislative session, the WV Legislature had the opportunity to help West Virginians begin to get control of their rapidly rising electric rates. Instead, the Senate Judiciary Committee blocked Senate Bill 162, which would have required power companies to produce what are known as integrated resource plans that identify the lowest cost ways of meeting the state’s electricity needs. Judiciary Committee members, with heavy pressure by both coal industry and electric industry lobbyists, specifically rejected all language that would require lowest cost resources to be identified by power companies.
The House of Delegates also rejected any attempt to pass legislation that would require WV’s power companies to meet specific energy efficiency targets, which would reduce the need to raise rates to cover new coal costs and investment in new power plants.
Throughout this legislative session, coal industry lobbyists joined power company lobbyists to argue that any attempt to lower WV’s electric rates would put coal miners out of work. Astonishing as it seems, WV’s Senators and Delegates actually believed this absurd claim.
WV already has one of the highest per capita rates of electricity use in the US. Rate increases over the last five years for all West Virginians have also eliminated WV’s claim to have the lowest electric rates in the country. Reducing West Virginians’ electric rates by investing in increased efficiency is simply a no-brainer, and it is relatively easy. But the WV Legislature would rather listen to lobbyists for large corporations based in Ohio and other states than put the interests of West Virginia and West Virginians first.