CHARLESTON — Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power are once again asking for a rate increase.
The companies submitted a filing with the Public Service Commission of West Virginia Friday requesting a $73 million hike effective Sept. 1 in the amount collected for expanded net energy cost, which includes expenses the utility has to pay to buy power to generate electricity and cover environmental compliance and construction costs.
“The ENEC amount is mostly for dollars already spent but not recovered in last year’s case when the financial impacts of the pandemic on our customers were most severe,” Chris Beam, Appalachian Power president and chief operating officer, said in a statement Friday evening. “The pandemic has been difficult, and that’s why we suspended disconnects for non-payment for most of 2020 and made it easier to get payment arrangements.”
Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power proposed in February 2020 to produce an additional $82 million in expanded net energy cost revenues and later agreed to collect an additional $50.1 million.
The companies reported an under-recovery of $55.3 million as of Feb. 28 that they attributed in part to the commission’s approval of expanded net energy cost revenues below their requested $82 million.
The American Electric Power subsidiaries are seeking to recover $2.3 million in costs they say were related to COVID-19, including $1.1 million in spending on protective measures.
Beam said that Appalachian Power administered $12.7 million of tax savings toward erasing the debt of residential customers with past-due amounts of more than 90 days and credited $7.4 million received from West Virginia CARES Act funding to eligible residential customers.
The companies on Thursday requested from the Public Service Commission a $5 million increase in rates to recover the approved cost of its energy efficiency and demand response programs, to take effect January 2022.
If approved as proposed, residential customer rates would rise about 6%, a monthly increase of $8.10 for a customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours or $16.20 for a customer using 2,000 kilowatt hours, according to the companies.
Energy efficiency programs encourage reducing energy use. Demand response programs allow and incentivize consumers to lower or shift their electricity usage during periods of peak demand.
Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power are also requesting a continuation of current rates reimbursing them for right-of-way vegetation management.
The companies moved in 2014 to a cycle-based vegetation management approach in which all circuits are managed end to end every six years. Company management has said the approach has resulted in clearer rights-of-way, helping shorten restoration times through improved access to its facilities.
West Virginia’s thick forests and rugged mountain terrain have made length and frequency of outages a problem throughout Appalachian Power’s coverage area in the state. The number of outages experienced by Appalachian Power customers in 2019 more than doubled national averages, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data.
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