CHARLESTON, W.Va. — AARP West Virginia today urged the state’s Public Service Commission to allow the economy to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic before implementing proposed rate increases for Appalachian Power Company and Wheeling Power Company customers. In light of current economic uncertainty and high unemployment, AARP is fighting to ensure utility customers receive essential services at affordable rates.
The PSC is currently considering a settlement agreement for a modest rate increase for Appalachian and Wheeling residential customers. In a letter to the PSC, AARP urged the commissioners to suspend the increase until the health of the economy and customers is strong enough to sustain the added costs. AARP also asked the PSC to trim all non-essential utility spending.
“As West Virginians face the challenges of the pandemic, we can’t afford utility rate hikes during a time of record unemployment and economic uncertainty,” said Gaylene Miller, AARP West Virginia State Director. “Rate increases need to wait while so many West Virginians are struggling to make ends meet.”
In its letter, AARP noted the state’s unemployment rate climbed to 15.2 percent—a threefold increase in the two months after the rate case filings were prepared. AARP urged the PSC to condition the settlement’s rate increases on unemployment returning to its February 2020 level before being implemented.
Miller added, “AARP will continue to fight on behalf of West Virginians 50 and older to keep utility rates fair and reasonable. We urge the PSC to consider the impacts of the pandemic as it finalizes these rate cases.”