Naturally, there will be a cost to the customer, but Matheney believes it will be manageable. The cost of the fuel used to generate electricity in West Virginia (primarily coal) is not going up right now, and may continue to hold steady at least in the near term because of the competition from low natural gas prices.
That means customers will not get hit with the double-whammy of maintenance costs and rising fuel prices.
West Virginians enjoy relatively low electricity costs. The U.S. Energy Information Administration says the price for a kilowatt hour was 9.85 cents as of last November.
That's about two cents below the national average and lower than every neighboring state except Kentucky (9.33 cents).
The average residential Apco customer pays just under $100 dollars a month for electricity. Matheny is not ready to estimate exactly how much more customers would have to pay for regular right-of-way clearance, but she suggests it won't be more than a couple of dollars a month, no more than
the cost of a gallon or two of gas.
If so, that's a reasonable investment. Power company customers have complained for years, and rightfully so, about utilities not keeping trees and branches away from power lines.
The derecho forced the PSC and the power companies to finally come to terms with the problem. The solution will be relatively simple, but it's not going to be free.
Kercheval is host of TalkLine, broadcast by the MetroNews Statewide Radio Network from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. The show can be heard locally on WCHS 580 AM.