On Wednesday, Mon Power and Potomac Edison proposed a rate increase for the first time in almost five years. Together the two companies provide more than half a million customers with electricity across the state. Mon Power serves approximately 385,000 customers and Potomac Edison serves roughly 135,000 customers. The request the companies sent asks for a $96 million rate increase.
Patrick Bradley lives in Marion County. He claims he's worried about whether he'll be able to make ends meet if fees are raised.
"Me and my wife struggle to pay our bills now. We don't see it being right that everybody's should go up," said Bradley.
If approved by the Public Service Commission of West Virginia the average monthly electricity bill for residential customers would increase by approximately 15% from $92.62 to $106.79. Company officials are saying the rate increase is necessary.
Todd Meyers is a spokesman for Mon Power. He said, "Our request does reflect the cost of running the business today, providing our customers with reliable electric service, and keeping the lights on."
The filing will potentially help with costs related with the 2012 derecho, Hurricane Sandy, operating power stations, and the hiring of 50 new employees. In addition, the filing is tied to First Energy's purchase of the Harrison Power Station which took place in October 2013.
Marion County resident Julia King said, "I think it's a little outrageous that you have to pay for their decisions."
Company officials are saying a third of the rate increase is dedicated to tree trimming efforts and a new vegetation management program aimed to prevent issues involving downed power lines. Despite the possible hike, Mon Power is saying its customers are still getting a bargain.
"It would be 10% below the national average. Our electricity would still be very affordable," said Meyers.
Some local residents believe certain people will have a tough time adjusting to the change in rates if they take place.
"For the low income families I think it'll be difficult. For some others it probably won't affect them much at all," said King.
The Public Service Commission will review the filing extensively and public hearings will be held on the matter. If the commission approves the request customers could start paying more for electricity in February 2015.
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