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New Martinsville’s Electric Rates Are Set To Increase

By Staff | May 19, 2010

Electric rates for New Martinsville’s municipal customers are set to increase effective June 26.

An ordinance to that effect was adopted unanimously by city council during a special meeting May 12. The measure is now sent to the West Virginia Public Service Commission to review.

The increase is necessary to permit the city’s Electric Department to meet its current operational requirements, to provide reserves necessary to maintain its electric distribution system, and to provide for increased purchased power costs.

The proposed increase in rates will produce approximately $515,000 annually in additional revenue, an increase of 17.47 percent. The average monthly bill for the various classes of customers will be changed as follows:

Residential (764 kWh/mo): $10.62 or 14.93 percent increase; commercial (1,580 kWh/mo): $25.62 or 15.62 percent increase; industrial (46,320 kWh/mo): $787.46 or 21.71 percent increase; and governmental (23,470 kWh/mo): $401.94 or 20.41 percent increase. Obviously, since those are averages based on current customer usage, individual accounts may experience higher or lower increases based on their usage.

Electric Department Head David White said the increase is based on fixed costs over the next four years. “We tried to watch the market and capitalize on the best rates,” said White. “That was my goal, to get as long of a period as possible.”

Actually the city’s power purchase rates are higher for the remainder of this year, but will go down in the following years. However, the new customer rate will remain the same over the course of the four-year period, through 2014. That way this year’s higher rates will not be realized by the public now, but spread over the period, subsidized by future payments.

Also, White said this increase is inclusive, meaning it takes in the current Power Cost Adjustment currently listed on municipal bills. Those incremental increases, with the last enacted in July 2008, were small adjustments allowable by the PSC without going through the rate change procedure.

The increased rates and charges approved by council are subject to change (increases or decreases) by the Public Service Commission in its review of this filing. The commission shall review and approve or modify the increased rates only upon the filing of a petition within 30 days of the adoption of the ordinance changing said rates or charges, by:

Any customer aggrieved by the changed rates or charges who presents to the commission a petition signed by not less than 25 percent of the customers served by such municipally operated public utility; any customer who is served by a municipally operated public utility and who resides outside the corporate limits and who is affected by the change in said rates or charges and who presents to the commission a petition, accompanied by evidence, alleging discrimination between customers within and without the municipal boundaries; or any customer or group of customers who are affected by said change in rates who reside within the municipal boundaries and who present a petition to the commission alleging discrimination between said customer or group of customers and other customers of the municipal utility. Said petition shall be accompanied by evidence of discrimination.

All petitions should be addressed to the Executive Secretary, Public Service Commission of West Virginia, 201 Brooks Street, P.O. Box 812, Charleston, WV 25323.

A complete copy of the proposed rates, as well as a representative of the utility to provide any information requested concerning it, is available to all customers, prospective customers, or their agents at City Hall, 197 Main Street, New Martinsville.