Rate Payer Provides Insight into WV Distribution System Collapse

I subscribe to the email service from the WV PSC’s investigation into last July’s blackout.  As readers know, the PSC is involved in a do-nothing kabuki investigation that will result in little or no change.  The interesting filings come in the form of comments from rate payers, not the irrelevant dance enacted by PSC staff and power companies.

Here is a letter that went up on the PSC docket last night from a rate payer in St. Albans.  St. Albans is part of APCo’s service territory.  As we have seen over the past five years, APCo has had a particularly hard time keeping the lights on.  Mr. Raymond states that his power has been blacked out four times just in 2012.  He also states that he lives in “a some what rural area” but I doubt that someone with a St. Albans address lives in an area as rural as a lot of West Virginians.

Here is his description of APCo’s failures this year:

So far this year (2012) I, along with the other people on our grid, have experienced total power loss in February 2012, June/July 2012, August 2012 and October/November 2012.We have been without power for 7% of the entire year.

Maybe the WV Coal Association should change their slogan to “Coal keeps the lights on, 93% of the time.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Raymond attributes APCo’s reliability problems in his area to unfairness in the treatment of rural customers.  The problem is failure of power companies like APCo to invest in repairing and maintaining their distribution systems, while their parent companies (in this case AEP) chase high profit, rate payer subsidized high voltage transmission projects.  The transmission line developers propagandize about some vague future blackouts, while West Virginians experience more and more real blackouts in the here and now.

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