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UPDATED: Virginia regulators hold hearing on Appalachian Power

March 16, 2010
  • The State Corporation Commission hearing on Appalachian Power's rate increase request has ended.
The State Corporation Commission hearing on Appalachian Power's rate increase request has ended.

Six people, including four legislators, testified this morning in Richmond during the final public hearing on the Appalachian Power rate increase now pending before the State Corporation Commission.

The SCC has held two other hearings in Abingdon, and Rocky Mount.

During brief remarks at the start of the session, Judge Judith Jagdmann said the three Commissioners are "very much aware " that rising electric rates are a hardship on people living in Appalachian Power's service area.  She said, "within the bounds of the law, we will do everything possible to make sure any rate increase that results from this case is consistent with carrying out the law and minimizes the impact on citizens as much as possible."

The witnesses included four members of the General Assembly: Del. Don Merricks/(R) Pittsylvania Co., Sen. Phil Puckett/(D) Russell Co.,  Sen. Roscoe Reynolds/(D) Henry Co. and  Del. Ward Armstrong/(D) Martinsville.  All four spoke in opposition to Appalachian's request, encouraging  the commissioners to deny or limit any increase.   Merricks asked the commissioners to "send a message that enough is enough and give our citizens and businesses some much needed breathing room from higher utility rates."  Armstrong told the judges, "it's not so much about papers and petitions as it is flesh and blood, and the human face on this thing.

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Representatives of Appalachian Power attended the hearing and said the comments were similar to concerns they heard at the earlier public hearings.   Appalachian spokesman Todd Burns said, "we understand that the economy is not doing well and we certainly know that this is a bad time to have to raise electric rates. We're in a position where our environmental compliance expenses are skyrocketing."

An evidentiary hearing is scheduled at the end of the month, and the commissioners must rule by July 15th.   A rate increase, if one is granted, will take effect in August.  

UPDATED: 11:52 a.m.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Virginia regulators are being urged to carefully examine a proposed rate increase for Appalachian Power.

The State Corporation Commission held a public hearing Tuesday to discuss the company's request for a 12.5 percent base rate increase.

Lawmakers and customers told the commission about the hardships being faced by Appalachian Power customers in parts of Virginia hurt by high unemployment and higher-than-expected winter heating costs.

Last month, lawmakers passed a bill suspending the interim rate increase following complaints from customers.  Appalachian Power's interim rate increase went into effect in December.

The commission will hold an evidentiary hearing in the case later this month and is expected to rule on the increase by July 15.

UPDATED: 11:30 a.m.

The State Corporation Commission hearing on Appalachian Power's rate increase request has ended.  Only six people spoke during this morning's session in Richmond.  Four were legislators. 

Delegate Ward Armstrong told commissioners he wanted to emphasize the personal effects of Appalachian's proposed increase.  He said it is not just about numbers and rate of return.  Armstrong said the proposal hurts real people in Central and Southwest Virginia.

Check back here and watch News-7 tonight for more information.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Virginia regulators are set to hear public comment on a proposed rate increase for Appalachian Power customers.

The State Corporation Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing on Tuesday to discuss the company's request for an about 12.5 percent base rate increase.

Last month, lawmakers passed a bill suspending the interim rate increase following complaints from customers in parts of the state particularly hurt by high unemployment and higher-than-expected winter heating costs.

Appalachian Power's interim rate increase had gone into effect in December.

The commission will hold an evidentiary hearing in the case later this month and is set to rule on the rate increase by July 15.

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