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Mon Power, Potomac Edison seek rate hike in W.Va.

By Jared Hunt, Business editor

Mon Power and Potomac Edison have asked the state Public Service Commission to approve a $96 million rate increase, which could raise rates for the average residential customer by about 15 percent.

The request would incorporate the cost of a Harrison County power plant purchase, approved last year by the PSC, into the companies’ permanent rates. It would also allow the company to recover costs tied to damage from the 2012 derecho and Superstorm Sandy and implement a new tree-trimming program.

The companies, both subsidiaries of FirstEnergy Corp., made the 1,758-page rate filing Wednesday.

The new rate plan will allow them to hire an additional 50 employees to help enhance service reliability, according to a company press release.

“The filing will help ensure continued safe and reliable electric generation for our customers,” Holly Kauffman, president of FirstEnergy’s West Virginia operations, said in the release. “On the utility side of our operations, the new employees will include linemen, engineers, supervisors and other personnel to help make the service we provide our customers even better and meet anticipated business growth in our state.”

Mon Power serves about 385,000 customers in 34 counties. Potomac Edison serves about 135,000 customers in the Eastern Panhandle.

The new rate plan would increase a typical residential customer’s bill by about 15 percent.

The companies said a residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours pays about $92.62 a month. The new rate plan would increase that monthly bill to about $106.79, according to the press release.

The PSC approved the $1.1 billion transfer of the Harrison Power Station from FirstEnergy subsidiary Allegheny Energy Supply last October. At the time, the cost of the purchase was offset by reductions in the power companies’ fuel cost rate as well as the sale of a separate power unit.

Those offsets resulted in a temporary 1.5-percent reduction in rates.

Earlier this month, the PSC approved an enhanced vegetative maintenance, or tree-trimming, program for the companies. The new program was a response to the power outages that occurred following the derecho and Sandy. The PSC approved a similar program earlier this year for Appalachian Power.

The companies estimated the new program would cost about $74 million in the first year, according to PSC filings. The PSC ruled at the time the costs of the increased program would be considered in the next rate case. It made a similar ruling in the Appalachian Power case.

This is the first time Mon Power and Potomac Edison have filed for a base rate increase in nearly five years, according to the companies’ press release. The companies said that even with the increased rates, their residential rates would still be 10 percent less than the national average.

Mon Power and Potomac Edison said any rate increase would not be effective until the PSC approves it. The companies said they did not expect approval to occur until February.

Contact writer Jared Hunt at business@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4836.


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