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Consumer Advocate: Ratepayers Should Not Pay For Utility Errors

Amos Plant
Curtis Tate
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
The John Amos power plant in Putnam County, West Virginia, was saved from near-term closure by the state Public Service Commission.

The state's Consumer Advocate Division has concluded that Appalachian Power “painted itself into a corner."

It says the company failed to maintain an adequate supply of coal to run its plants this year and last year instead of purchasing more expensive power from the regional market.

It says ratepayers should not have to pay the price for those mistakes. Instead, it says shareholders should bear them.

In April, Appalachian Power asked the Public Service Commission for approval to recover $297 million from ratepayers. The PSC held four public comment hearings and a two-day evidentiary hearing in Charleston last month.

An outside consultant is currently reviewing whether those costs were prudently incurred.

Should the PSC approve Appalachian Power’s request, average residential customers would see an $18 increase in their monthly bills.

Residents, industrial customers and local governments have uniformly opposed the increase.

The PSC has allowed Appalachian Power to recover $125 million in energy costs so far this year.

Appalachian Power is an underwriter of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

Energy & Environment Reporter, ctate@wvpublic.org, 202-679-8470, @tatecurtis

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