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A message to utilities: We aren’t made of cash

We perceive that below the legal guidelines governing energy monopolies — sorry, utilities — corporations are entitled to recoup their bills and make a bit additional for the shareholders. However the fee hike requests are getting out of hand.

All of it kicked off final winter when Mon Energy/Potomac Edison/First Vitality requested a fee enhance as a result of it misplaced cash, ostensibly as a result of it didn’t hold sufficient gas provide readily available and needed to pay additional to get extra. The Public Service Fee accepted an $11.05 monthly fee enhance (which we’re paying now). Nevertheless, it additionally steered Mon Energy buy the Pleasants Energy Plant.  That, in flip, kicked off a complete firestorm by which Mon Energy wished to cost ratepayers $36 million to maintain the plant idle whereas the corporate evaluated its choices.

Happily, a 3rd celebration bought Pleasants. Sadly, Mon Energy incurred lots of of hundreds of {dollars} in “approved” prices in the course of the course of, which Mon Energy prospects will ultimately be anticipated to pay.

Mon Energy can also be looking for a $207 million base fee enhance (about $18 monthly for residential prospects). Thoughts you, the bottom fee is just not the identical as working bills. Working bills cowl the prices of gas to supply vitality, shifting vitality, shopping for vitality from different sources and environmental compliance. The bottom fee is comprised of personnel, taxes, debt, property (and depreciation) and different property. And it’s the bottom fee that utilities get to make their revenue from.

On prime of that enhance, there’s an expended web vitality prices (ENEC) fee hike, to the tune of $167.5 million. That one would enhance residential payments by $10.08 monthly beginning in March. Plus, there’s a 14-cent cost to all Mon Energy prospects for the photo voltaic beds Mon Energy shall be constructing.

If all three fee hikes are accepted, Mon Energy prospects are an almost $30 leap on their payments.

Then there’s Hope Gasoline, which has requested for a $66.5 million fee enhance as a part of its Pipeline Alternative and Growth Program (about $6.45 a month, which could possibly be offset by the newly filed Bought Gasoline Software). Although Hope hasn’t filed but, we guess it can ask to recuperate the $37 million buy value for Individuals’s Gasoline.

Altogether, ratepayers are practically a $40 enhance of their utility payments. That’s an additional $480 per 12 months. And it’s ridiculous.

West Virginians will not be made of cash. We perceive utilities are entitled, by legislation, to recuperate their prices and make some revenue, however that revenue can not come on the expense of harming ratepayers. Not when temperature extremes imply better reliance on AC in summer season and warmth in winter. Not when drastic fee will increase might drive folks to decide on between energy and meals or medication or different important payments.

The utility corporations are asking for an excessive amount of, too quick. The Public Service Fee should rein them in.