Kanawha County Commission plans to counter proposed utility rate increases

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Kanawha County Commission has agreed to challenge proposals from Appalachian Power and West Virginia American Water Company that would result in customers paying more for utilities.

Appalachian Power and subsidiary Wheeling Power last month filed rate hike requests with the state Public Service Commission to recover fuel costs and fund vegetation clearing efforts. The requests, totaling $73 million, would result in the average customer’s bill increasing by $8 a month.

West Virginia American Water Company asked the state body to raise water and wastewater rates, which would result in an average monthly increase of $11.26 for residential customers.

“It is easy to sit here and complain that the utility company is just recklessly, unfairly raising people’s rates,” Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said. “In this case, it’s just true.”

Carper noted the companies are not expected to receive their proposed increases, but each company will file subsequent requests to meet the desired amount.

“What we’ve got now is utility companies coming in with all of these different tag-on fees plus a base rate increase,” he said.

The commission also approved contacting the state Legislature about holding hearings related to the proposals.