Curtis Tate Published

Industrial Electricity Users Say Rising Rates Threaten Competitiveness

Steam and emissions rise from the tall stacks and cooling towers of the John Amos power plant against overcast skies next to the muddy water of the Kanawha River.
The John Amos power plant in Putnam County.
Curtis Tate/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The state’s largest industrial users of electricity say a series of Appalachian Power rate increases have undermined their competitiveness.

In testimony to the West Virginia Public Service Commission, the West Virginia Energy Users Group says that four years ago, industrial customers were paying 6 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity.

Should the PSC approve Appalachian Power’s current request to recover nearly $642 million, those same customers would pay more than 11 cents per kilowatt hour, nearly double 2019 rates.

Such rates would rank West Virginia at 43rd among states in terms of electricity affordability. That would put the state’s industries at a competitive disadvantage, the group says.

Appalachian Power is considering other options to spread out the cost over time to ease the burden on electricity users, both commercial and residential.

Those costs relate to the higher price of coal and natural gas in 2021 and last year.

Under two other options Appalachian Power has proposed, industrial users would pay slightly more than 8 cents per kilowatt hour, or more than 9 cents per kilowatt hour.

According to the Energy Users Group, West Virginia would rank 32nd or 40th among states in power costs, respectively, under those options.

The PSC will hold a public comment hearing on Monday in Wheeling, at the Ohio County Courthouse at 5:30 p.m. The PSC will hold an evidentiary hearing in Charleston on Sept. 5.

Appalachian Power is an underwriter of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.