Yesterday afternoon, FirstEnergy filed a rate increase request at the WV PSC to provide them with money for dumping the Harrison Power Station on WV rate payers. Here is a link to the filing by First Energy subsidiaries Mon Power and Potomac Edison. The request takes the form of supplementary testimony revising their earlier rate increase request that is included in their application to dump 80% of the Harrison Power Station on WV rate payers. This supplemental rate increase is not part of a regular base rate case. It is a temporary shakedown that FirstEnergy wants to finance the Harrison deal. FirstEnergy wants to hide this rate increase in the Harrison plant case by calling it a “surcharge” separate from a regular rate proceeding. As I describe below, FirstEnergy will then come back and make this increase permanent through a regular base rate case.
This is a table from the filing showing the rate increases for all rate classes:
The big change from the previous rate increase design is that now almost all rate classes will have a 6% rate increase, except for the largest industrial users who will actually see their rates drop.
The really funny part was that FirstEnergy also presented a table comparing the proposed rate increase compared with the rates effective in 2012 — which is about as relevant as showing a comparison with rates in 1920. The reason they did that, of course, was that FirstEnergy’s rates have actually fallen since January 1, 2013. FirstEnergy had collected more money from us rate payers than they should have in the previous years, so PSC rules forced them to pay us back by reducing our current rates. By showing higher rates that are no longer in effect, and won’t be in effect on May 1 when FirstEnergy wants this new increase, FirstEnergy can show a very small rate increase. Which, of course, is completely beside the point.
Using the real rates that are in effect now, and will be in effect when FirstEnergy wants its rate increase on May 1, the increase is 6%. If FirstEnergy gets its way (which is highly unlikely) we will have enjoyed lower rates for only4 months.
If you look at FirstEnergy’s press release at this link, you will see that FirstEnergy wants this 6% surcharge to remain in place for six months after any Harrison transaction is approved, but which time they will file a normal base rate case with the PSC. This base rate case would incorporate the Harrison plant into Mon Power’s rate base, leading to permanent rate increases once the surcharge is removed.
As we have noted before, there is no reason for the Harrison transaction at all. So there is no need for any surcharge.