CHARLESTON – AARP West Virginia leaders today expressed the organization’s opposition to a pending major electric utility rate case that could have a significant economic impact on nearly 500,000 American Electric Power (AEP) customers served by Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power.
The utility providers, affiliates of AEP, are seeking cost recovery related to improvements and modifications at three West Virginia coal-fired power generating plants: AEP’s Mountaineer Plant in Mason County, John Amos Plant in Putnam County, and Mitchell Plant in Marshall County. The utilities formally filed to reopen this case (WV PSC Case No. 20-1040-E-CN) with the Public Service Commission of West Virginia (PSC) on Sept. 9. The Commission will host an evidentiary hearing for the case on Friday, Sept. 24.
The three West Virginia power plants generate electricity to serve AEP’s utility customers in three states – West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky. Regulators in two of those states (Kentucky and Virginia) have already denied similar cost recovery requests by AEP and its affiliates as uneconomic. AARP is urging the Public Service Commission of West Virginia to do the same.
“It is patently unfair to force West Virginia ratepayers to pay for investment costs that should be paid for by ratepayers in two other states – Kentucky and Virginia. This proposal doubles the initial rate increase approved by state regulators, putting West Virginia consumers on the hook alone for nearly a half-billion dollars in cost responsibility,” said Gaylene Miller, AARP West Virginia State Director.
AARP West Virginia leaders also expressed concerns over the expedited timeline in this case, as the lone public hearing and the evidentiary hearing in this case are occurring two weeks after AEP filed its request to reopen this case. In the past, the Public Service Commission of West Virginia has typically held a series of public hearings in communities throughout utility providers service areas to invite more public participation in the ratemaking process. A one-hour public hearing is scheduled on the case at 8 a.m. Friday morning at the Public Service Commission of West Virginia, 201 Brooks St., Charleston, and will be followed by the evidentiary hearing beginning at 9:30 a.m.
“This working timeline set by the Commission does not provide adequate opportunity for public comment, as this is a case that widely impacts a half-million ratepayers in 23 counties, from Wheeling to Welch,” Miller said. “We urge the PSC to schedule at least one more public comment hearing for a longer period, and to include an opportunity for evening participation. Doing so would fulfill the spirit of true public comment and invite an opportunity for AEP ratepayers to have their voices heard.”
AARP encourages Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power customers to file public comment online with the Public Service Commission of West Virginia prior to Friday’s hearing. A link to that public comment page with filing instructions is available on AARP West Virginia’s social media channels or online at aarp.org/wv.