WHEELING — U.S. Rep. David B. McKinley, R-1, blasted the Kentucky Public Service Commission for its Thursday decision to deny Appalachian Power a rate increase in the Bluegrass State.
Appalachian Power, which co-owns the coal-fired Mitchell Power Plant in Moundsville, West Viriginia, with Wheeling Power had sought rate increases in Kentucky and West Virginia. As proposed, the rate hikes would generate between $286 million and $317 million needed to install environmentally-mandated equipment on its coal-fired power plants.
According to published reports, the utilities listed potential project-related residential, commercial and industrial rate increases of 1.59%, 1.52% and 1.72%, respectively. The proposed increased project-related rates and charges would produce $23.5 million in additional annual revenue, according to the companies.
However, with Kentucky's rate hike denial, the plant could be shut down in 2028, instead of 2040, as previously proposed. The plant currently employs some
“It is disappointing that Kentucky is turning its back on coal. This misguided decision only helps the left’s pursuit of ending the use of coal and fossil fuels across the country. Not only does the Mitchell Power Plant support countless jobs and much-needed economic activity but it is critical to providing reliable and resilient electricity to ratepayers through West Virginia and Kentucky," McKinley said in a prepared statement.
According to a report in The Charleston Gazette Mail, the average monthly residential bill (as measured by the residential rate for 1,000 kilowatt-hours) for American Electric Power’s West Virginia utilities escalated from $55.28 in 2006 to $138.57 in 2021 — an increase of 150% over 15 years.
McKinley, however, said any rate increases are far worse than the long-term economic impact caused by the loss of jobs at the power plant.
"Any rate increases needed to keep the Mitchell Power Plant open pale in comparison to the economic devastation that will come with the plant’s premature closure. Moving forward, to keep the plant open through 2040, we will work with the state and other stakeholders to find a solution to protect our economy and West Virginia’s coal miners,” McKinley said.
In late 2020, AEP through its subsidiaries Wheeling Power and Kentucky Power, filed applications asking for rate increases that would allow for investment in modifications in the plant to comply with two federal regulations governing the disposal of coal combustion residuals and effluent limitation guidelines, which would allow the plant to operate through 2040.
A decision by the West Virginia Public Service Commission is still pending on whether or not rate increases will be approved to pay for mandated federal environmental upgrades.
In June, McKinley testified before the West Virginia PSC on the need to keep Mitchell operating through 2040 and led a congressional delegation letter calling on the WVPSC to approve the upgrades.
At that same public hearing, Appalachian Power Company President and COO Chris Beam testified that closing the Mitchell Plant in 2028 would save ratepayers $27 million a year.