The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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July 16, 2014

Delegate looks to unplug rate hike

Moore wants federal agencies to intervene

BLUEFIELD — A local lawmaker is calling upon the Federal Trade Commission and other regulatory agencies to intervene in a 17 percent rate increase sought by Appalachian Power.

Delegate Clif Moore, D-McDowell, also is asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Department of Justice — should it become necessary — to investigate the entire wholesale electric market to ensure that local customers are not being improperly overcharged.

“Please be advised this correspondence respectfully transmits my utter disdain, shock and amazement with American Electric Power in their quest to seek a 17 percent increase in already unaffordable electric costs,” Moore said in a letter to the Daily Telegraph.

“Neither the residents nor businesses can afford this astronomical rate increase. If granted, this increase will adversely impact businesses and jobs in our region. The many fine businesses and residents of our region must not be penalized for acts that have occurred that exceed their control.”

Appalachian Power announced earlier this month that it filed for a base rate increase with the Public Service Commission of West Virginia. The company is seeking a $226 million increase, which would equal a 17 percent increase on current rates for electricity. If approved, the rates would not to into effect until the end of April 2015.

Moore said the Federal Trade Commission, which is tasked to promote consumer protection and eliminating anti-competitive business practices, should intervene in the rate hike.

“It is, in my humble opinion, imperative for state and federal regulators to verify that current rates are within legal limits,” Moore said. “The proposed rate increase, if granted, will have a deleterious effect on the pocketbooks of thousands of people in our region — elderly, veterans, fixed incomes, single parent families, working poor, and of course, the rapidly disappearing middle class.”

Other area lawmakers, including Sen. Truman Chafin, D-Mingo; Sen. Bill Cole, R-Mercer; Delegate Marty Gearheart, R-Mercer; Delegate John Shott, R-Mercer; and Delegate Joe Ellington, R-Mercer, also have all voiced opposition to the proposed rate hike.

— Charles Owens is a  reporter for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.

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