CHARLESTON, W.Va. - State Sen. H. Truman Chafin, D-Mingo, has urged members of the state Public Service Commission to reject the unreasonable 17 percent rate hike sought by Appalachian and Wheeling Power, both subsidiaries of American Electric Power.
“Not withstanding the recent storms that we have endured, the requested rate hikes by the power companies, amounting to $226 million, or 17 percent, is totally unreasonable and our citizens cannot and should not have to bear this huge rate increase in their utility bills,” Chafin said.
Chafin has contested other rate increases proposed by the power companies in the past and conducted public hearings throughout Southern West Virginia. These hearings were very well attended and spoke to the strong opposition held by West Virginia citizens, particularly their displeasure at substandard line maintenance.
He has also spoken from the Senate floor about the huge salaries being drawn by upper management of Appalachian Power Company while they requested rate increase after increase in order to bring in out-of-state linemen to clean up right of ways that should have been maintained locally.
“With so many of our citizens struggling and on fixed incomes, and with social security retirees receiving just a little more than $14,000 annually, it is unreasonable to suggest that they can bear another $250 on their electric bill,” Chafin said, “and we suggest that the Public Service Commission urge the power companies to look internally to cover costs by trimming some upper management salaries as well as restoring the local workforce to clear right-of-way passages and keep lines in good working order.”
He continued by saying that, “although we all understand that rate increases occur periodically in order to offset the cost of day-to-day business, these increases should be small, 1 percent or 2 percent, and should be staggered over a period of time to prevent further financial hardship to our citizens.”
“A 17 percent increase is just unreasonable,” he said.
The senator is urging all of his Senate colleagues to voice their opposition to the proposed rate hikes and plans to ask the Senate for special hearings that will permit citizens to voice their concerns and opposition to these further unreasonable rate increases.