CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper called on the state Public Service Commission Wednesday to force utility companies, which are enjoying a windfall from the Trump tax cuts, to pass all of those savings along to customers. The West Virginia PSC is holding hearings on the plans for each regulated utility to explain how they plan to spread those savings from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to rate payers.
Carper, speaking specifically about Appalachian Power Company, was irritated about the company’s repeated requests for rate hikes in recent years.
“It just comes down to fundamental fairness,” Carper testified before the PSC Wednesday morning. “I look at this as a rate increase because this is their money.”
Appalachian Power proposed to the Commission the money saved by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would allow them to effectively reduce the amount requested for rate hikes in the future. Carper, an others intervening in the case, bristled at the suggestion.
“The thought they applied for a rate increase when they knew they had this huge windfall, sends a clear message to this commission,” he explained. “I respectfully ask you to send a clear message back to them. This should be disgorged.. They shouldn’t get any of this.”
Carper reasoned utility companies, particularly Appalachian Power and West Virginia American Water, routinely inflate the amount of their rate increase proposals deliberately and are willing to “settle” for a much lower rate hike after negotiations with the PSC.. Carper said said ultimately, there is very little benefit to the consumer by lowering only the amount requested in a rate hike case.
“This morning in Kanawha County almost a thousand families are without electricity,” he said. “We need to spend more time on fixing the electric grid in this county and less time on raising our electric bills.”
The hearings continue at the PSC’s Charleston headquarters.