CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Appalachian Power Company President and COO Aaron Walker says he finds a decision by the state Public Service Commission on his company’s fuel cost case “disappointing and deeply troubling.”

Aaron Walker

The PSC issued a decision Tuesday evening saying the utility can collect $371.1 million over 10 years from its customers for past fuel costs. Walker said that’s significantly less than what the fuel costs actually were.

“This case was about recouping $553 million in costs we incurred between 2021 and 2023 to produce and provide electricity for our West Virginia customers,” Walker said in a statement to MetroNews.”The Commission’s order denied recovery of 42 percent of those costs, and we find that disappointing and deeply troubling.”

The PSC decided to disallow the full recovery. Part of its 37-page decision Appalachian Power’s decision to have smaller coal stockpiles at its power plants leaving the company more vulnerable to swings in coal prices.

Walker said his company should be allowed to collect what it spent.

“Through the information and facts we presented to the Commission, and the relevant legal standards, it is our position that no disallowance was warranted.

“We are studying the order in detail and will explore all legal remedies available to us,” Walker said.

Kent Carper

The order allows Appalachian Power to collect $37.1 million a year for the 10-year period. The average customer’s bill will go up approximately $2.50 a month and be in place until September 2034.

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said the PSC made the right decision.

“The bottom line is the Public Service Commission cut their request by $250 million, that’s a lot of savings for customers,” Carper said.

Carper called the original request an overreach by Appalachian Power. The county commission formally protested the increase. Carper said the PSC realized consumers cannot tolerate “back-to-back-to-back” utility hikes.

Carper said he doesn’t anticipate Appalachian Power to stop asking for more money.

“Right now the power company is probably writing another rate increase and they’ll be submitting it within the next four to five to six months. They submit new rate increases while they waiting on the decision for the last increase. Enough is enough,” Carper said.

Late last month the utilities proposed a settlement to basically take the costs and turn it into bonds with customers paying back the debt over 20 years. The PSC said that plan would have had customers pay $2.9 billion or $3.17 a month over the 20-year plan.