Kanawha Commission, city of Charleston oppose utility rate increases

Kanawha County commissioners and the city of Charleston say residents should be receiving reductions in their bills rather than rate increases from utility companies since the companies will be getting millions of dollars in tax breaks. (MGN Online)

Kanawha County commissioners and the city of Charleston say residents should be receiving reductions in their bills rather than rate increases from utility companies since the companies will be getting millions of dollars in tax breaks.

The county and city on Monday filed a formal notice of intent to participate in the state Public Service Commission’s investigation of the 2017 Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) and the resulting savings to utility companies, according to a news release from the county commission.

The news release said Appalachian Power and West Virginia American Water have filed rate increase requests with the PSC, despite hundreds of millions of dollars in tax savings large privately owned utility companies in West Virginia will receive through TCJA.

“The power company and the water company should withdraw their absurd rate increase requests,” Commission President Kent Carper said. “Both companies are saving millions because of the new tax law, and to ask for a rate increase now is double dipping brought to a new low.”

Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said by taking action to intervene in the case, the city and county “both strongly believe that these privately owned utility should return funds from these enormous tax savings to customers through reduced costs of utility services, monthly bill credits, or other rate reductions.”

In May, Appalachian Power said it was seeking an increase of 11.1 percent for residential customers, which would be about $14.81 for the average monthly bill. Commercial customers’ rates would increase by 11.5 percent, which would be about $42.43. Industrial rates would increase by 1.1 percent, which would equate to about $1,960.

Meanwhile, West Virginia American Water in April filed an application with the Public Service Commission, asking for a 24 percent water rate hike. The actual impact for the average customer in the requested $32 million increase, when an existing distribution system improvement charge is rolled into base rates and the surcharge reduced, would be 21 percent - $10.22 per month or 34 cents per day.

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