W.Va. AEP Rates Drop

MOUNDSVILLE – American Electric Power customers in Marshall and Ohio counties will see lower bills starting next month, thanks to the Public Service Commission of West Virginia.

Ratepayers who use 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity each month will see monthly bills go down by about $3.

The costs to obtain fuel, such as coal or natural gas, to generate electricity are the largest expenses for an electric utility, according to the PSC. Customer rates can be adjusted to reflect only projected changes in the cost of fuel, certain environmental compliance measures and construction costs.

Via its Wheeling Power and Appalachian Power subsidiaries, AEP has 478,500 customers in Boone, Cabell, Clay, Fayette, Greenbrier, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Marshall, Mason, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Monroe, Nicholas, Ohio, Putnam, Raleigh, Roane, Summers, Wayne and Wyoming counties throughout the Mountain State.

But while AEP’s West Virginia customers soon will see lower bills, those in Ohio could actually see their bills go up because of the ongoing rate dispute between AEP and Ormet Corp. The aluminum producer is asking the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to allow it to have discounted power rates until 2015, at which time it hopes to generate its own natural gas-fired electric power.

AEP could raise Ormet’s bills to $62.83 per megawatt hour, according to Ormet Chief Executive Officer Mike Tanchuk.

The rate was just $39.66 per megawatt hour when the companies reached their most recent power agreement in 2009, he said.

However, AEP officials maintain this is unfair to other ratepayers. They warn power discounts for Ormet could result in higher rates for about 1.4 million customers across the Buckeye State, many of whom live hundreds of miles away from the Hannibal facility.

Ormet officials hope to gain the AEP rate relief so they can complete a $221 million sale to Wayzata Investment Partners as a means to emerge from the bankruptcy case filed in February.