According to this morning’s story in the Charleston Gazette, APCo and Wheeling Power, WV electric utilities owned by Ohio-based holding company AEP, AEP is asking the WV PSC for a new 4.4% rate increase to cover primarily higher costs for fuel (coal) and other variable costs, in WV PSC-speak Expanded Net Energy Costs (ENEC).
This new rate increase comes just months after the new charge to cover AEP’s 2008 coal costs hit APCo and Wheeling Power electric bills. This new charge was dubbed by AEP and the WV Legislature the “Consumer Rate Relief Charge” is nothing more than a subsidy of AEP’s obsolete coal fired power plants. AEP’s heavy dependence on coal trapped the company in a 2008 coal price bubble. By law, AEP can pass all fuel costs on to WV customers, but in order to hide the dramatic rate increases required to pay for AEP’s coal, the WV PSC, AEP and the WV Legislature devised a financing scheme which added the burden of $410 million in long term debt to WV electric bills.
WV electric customers have been forced by recent WV PSC decisions to bear the future costs of coal fired electricity. The PSC’s decision to dump the Harrison Power Station on FirstEnergy’s WV customers, at a wildly inflated price, has continued to lock Mon Power and Potomac Edison customers into coal fired power’s death spiral. AEP is attempting to dump its coal burners on its APCo and Wheeling Power customers. That case is not quite over, but will likely result in another rate increase for AEP customers in a future base rate case.
I’ll continue to provide coverage of AEP’s new rate increase in future posts. This new rate increase comes on the heals of the WV Legislature’s killing of a bill to provide incentives to diversify WV’s electric generation mix by restoring tax credits for installation of solar power systems and by creating a solar carve out to WV’s phony ARPS law.