ICYMI: Appalachian Power Appeals Denial of Rate Increase to Supreme Court of Virginia

ICYMI: Appalachian Power Appeals Denial of Rate Increase to Supreme Court of Virginia

Richmond, Virginia—Dominion Energy isn’t the only utility monopoly fighting to charge consumers more. Appalachian Power has filed an appeal with the Supreme Court of Virginia after the State Corporation Commission denied their bid to raise customer bills. Appalachian Power’s parent company, American Electric Power, has recorded record profits in recent years while Virginians pay the 6th highest energy bills in the country

In the middle of a pandemic and a recession, Appalachian Power attempted to raise customer bills despite increases of over 64% since 2007. The State Corporation Commission denied their request, stating that the company earned a reasonable rate of profit. The appeal could challenge the constitutionality of state law governing the earnings of both Appalachian and Dominion Energy.

“Both Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power are working overtime to charge their customers even more than they already do. Hardworking families across the Commonwealth are struggling to make ends meet in a never-ending pandemic. Instead of reaching out a helping hand, our utility monopolies want permission from the State Corporation Commission to make even more money by charging their customers even more to keep the lights on,” Ashleigh Crocker, communications director at Progress Virginia, said. “People in our community can’t just get their power from another company thanks to their monopoly status, so the Supreme Court of Virginia must rule in favor of the ratepayers and reject this endless demand for more profits.”

Appalachian Power appeals rate case to Supreme Court of Virginia [Virginia Mercury, Sarah Vogelsong]

Virginia’s system of utility regulation is notoriously complex, the product of not only an increasingly sophisticated energy landscape but also years of legislative intervention, much of it encouraged by Appalachian and Dominion. The two investor-owned electric utilities are the largest in the state and since 2007 have been regulated under a different set of rules than all other utilities.

If the court were to find that the SCC’s decision constituted an unconstitutional taking of Appalachian’s property by barring it from recouping its future costs, “the implications would be significant,” wrote Will Reisinger, an attorney for the Virginia Poverty Law Center, in a court filing.“ Such a finding would cast doubt on prior orders when excessive rates were not decreased in order to protect customers,” he wrote.