PSC apparently fails to look out for consumers

An editorial from The Register-Herald

BECKLEY, W.Va. — The approval this week of a massive rate hike for customers of Appalachian Power took us — and a lot of other ratepayers — by surprise.

The utility’s president, Charles Patton, says the new higher rates for his company push West Virginia “more toward the national average.”

 West Virginia, he said, has enjoyed electricity rates below what customers in surrounding states are paying.

An immediate hike of 11.8 percent will show up quickly on customers’ bills. The rest of the rate hike will be phased in and eventually total 16.1 percent for residential customers. Business and industrial customers rate hikes will be lower.

So the state Public Service Commission, the agency that is supposed to have the interests of West Virginia utility ratepayers at heart, signed off on a rate hike that will raise the average customer’s monthly bill by $19.50.

When companies raise prices that significantly, customers have the option to take their business elsewhere.

But given the monopolies that public utilities have, regrettably, that isn’t an option…


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