June 19, 2008

Electricity Rates Could Go Up in July

By Fred Pace, The Register-Herald, Beckley, W.Va.

Jun. 19--On Feb. 29, Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power, both subsidiaries of American Electric Power, filed for a rate increase with the state Public Service Commission.

"We are still waiting on a ruling from the state PSC," AEP spokeswoman Jeri Matheney said Wednesday. "We are expecting it very soon."

AEP is seeking an annual increase in revenues of approximately $156 million, or about 17 percent, to be effective July 1. If approved as filed, bills for residential customers using 1,000 kilowatt-hours a month would rise from $64.55 to $73.94, a $9.39 increase.

Approximately $84 million of the increase is for the cost of fuel, primarily coal, used to generate electricity, and $50 million is for purchased power, Matheney said.

Another $17 million of the requested increase is for flue gas desulfurization units, or scrubbers, at the John Amos and Mountaineer plants that are needed to comply with mandated federal and state clean air laws, Matheney added.

"Appalachian Power is investing more than $1.4 billion in these projects," she said. "They will result in cleaner air at the lowest possible cost."

Another $5 million is for reliability improvements, right-of-way expenditures incurred last year, Matheney said.

"By far, most of the increase we're requesting is due to the increased price of new coal supplies and purchased power," said Dana Waldo, president and chief operating officer of Appalachian Power. "This is simply a pass-through expense that includes no profit for the company."

Meanwhile, high temperatures settling into Appalachian Power's service territory the past few weeks are expected to increase electric consumption in the region as customers strive to stay cool.

While the company expects to have sufficient capacity in the region to meet the increased demand, Appalachian encourages all of its customers to use electricity wisely, Matheney added.

She said the company offers the following summer cooling tips:

- Adjust your thermostat on your air conditioner or heat pump. Raising your thermostat just two degrees can cut up to eight percent off your cooling costs. The company recommends a summer setting of 78 degrees Fahrenheit.

- Close drapes or blinds during the hottest part of the day to keep the heat out and the cool air inside.

- Do chores requiring electric appliances during the morning or evening.

- Make sure your filters are clean. Clean or replace cooling filters approximately once a month. Dirty filters cause electric appliances to work harder and consume more electricity.

For more energy-saving tips, visit www.AppalachianPower.com

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