Power Companies Getting Sneaky, Jacking Up Customer Service Fees

Most people in the US pay a relatively small flat fee as part of their electric bills.  In WV it’s called a “customer service fee.”  No one can really explain what this fee pays for, and why it couldn’t be included as part of the company’s base rate, which in WV covers normal overhead plus capital investment costs.  I demonstrated here how this flat fee raises your effective electric rate as you purchase less and less electricity from your power company.  If you improve the efficiency of your electricity use, just use less or produce your own electricity with a photovoltaic system, your rates go up.

In the past, I have also written about how power companies, faced with the threat of decentralized power to their obsolete business model, (along with some dark money and influence from the Koch brothers) have been pressuring public utilities commissions across the US to add extra fees to the bills of residential customers who produce their own electricity.  This effort succeeded in Arizona, ironically, the state with the most solar power potential in the US.

My friends up in Wisconsin sent me a link to this story about a Madison, WI power company that is jacking up its customer service fee from an already pretty high $10.50 per month to $19 per month (!).  Here in WV, FirstEnergy included an increase of its $5 monthly service fee to $6 in its pending base rate case.  AEP followed suit a month later in its own base rate case.

So it seems that electric companies aren’t interested in jacking up special fees just for solar power producers.  They want to make everyone to pay higher effective rates because they want to penalize anyone who it trying to reduce his/her electricity use.  I don’t know if anyone tracks trends in these customer service fees across the US, but it would be interesting to know if raising fees on everyone is increasing in frequency.

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