To cover these losses, the electric companies would have to either 1) raise current rates by 30 percent to 40 percent all at once or 2) sell $376 million worth of bonds, raising rates a little to cover debt service, and repaying the borrowed money over 15 years.
The PSC has already ruled that the companies can use a bond sale to address the $22.7 million owed by Century Aluminum's Ravenswood plant.
Obviously, a 30 percent to 40 percent rate increase all at once would devastate many customers.
Consumers could more easily pay these costs over time.
But make no mistake. Shoving the cost of past power consumption into the future is an unusual, even desperate, move.
It's just one more indicator of why West Virginia so badly needs robust economic development.
Only that would produce more industrial, business and residential customers, making it easier for everyone to bear the load.