Kanawha County Commission applauds PSC decision to prevent Appalachian Power rate increase

PRESS RELEASE:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The Kanawha County Commission wholeheartedly commends the West Virginia Public Service Commission (WV PSC) for rejecting over $231.7 million in expenses incurred by the Appalachian Power Company. The WV PSC’s ruling came in response to Appalachian Power’s rate hike request filed on April 28, 2023, seeking to recover over $553 million in power costs.

The Kanawha County Commission, a steadfast advocate for its residents and the broader community, intervened in the proceedings, opposing Appalachian Power’s request on the grounds of its perceived unreasonableness and excessiveness. This intervention is part of the Kanawha County Commission’s ongoing commitment to ensuring fair and just utility rates for the citizens it serves.

On January 10, 2024, the WV PSC delivered its decision on Appalachian Power’s rate hike. Appalachian Power contended that its actions were reasonable and prudent, a stance maintained even in attempted settlement negotiations with other parties. However, the WV PSC Staff, along with the Consumer Advocate Division and the Kanawha County Commission, rejected these claims, asserting that Appalachian Power’s costs were a result of unreasonable and imprudent management. While the WV PSC did not adopt the Kanawha County Commission’s position of disallowing the entire requested amount, it did disallow a significant portion—over $231,769,431.00—marking one of the most substantial disallowances in regulatory history.

Commission President W. Kent Carper stated, “As public servants, our foremost responsibility is to protect the interests of the people we serve. The WV PSC’s decision is a step in the right direction, affirming that excessive burdens on ratepayers will not be tolerated. We are committed to continued vigilance in safeguarding the economic well-being of our community. Utilities cannot expect to receive a never-ending parade of rate hikes.”

Commissioner Ben Salango added, “The West Virginia Public Service Commission’s decision is a significant victory for our community. It sends a clear message that excessive rate hikes will not go unchallenged, and utility companies must be held accountable for their actions. We will continue our fight for fair utility rates that reflect the economic realities facing our community.”

Commissioner Lance Wheeler remarked, “Our intervention in this case highlights the importance of holding utility companies accountable. This decision by the WV PSC is a significant step towards achieving a fair balance between the needs of utility providers and the rights of consumers. We are committed to protecting the economic well-being of our community and will persist in advocating for responsible utility rates.”

The Kanawha County Commission has consistently argued that such excessive rate hikes impose unbearable burdens on ratepayers already grappling with high levels of inflation and stagnant wage growth. As a staunch advocate for the community, the Kanawha County Commission remains committed to fighting against these out-of-control rate hikes, ensuring the best interests of Kanawha Countians and neighboring communities are protected.

In this case, the Kanawha County Commission stood as the sole local government entity to actively participate in the proceedings, representing the collective interests of its residents affected by these challenges. Moving forward, the Kanawha County Commission pledges to continue its vigorous efforts before the WV PSC to secure fair and reasonable utility rates for the benefit of the community at large.

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