See Cost of Coal: Electric Bills Skyrocket in Appalachia as Region’s Economy Collapses, by James Bruggers at Inside Climate News. Excerpt:
The common denominator is American Electric Power, one of the nation’s largest utilities. It owns Kentucky Power, along with two subsidiaries in neighboring West Virginia, Wheeling Power and Appalachian Power.
In May, Wheeling Power and Appalachian Power requested permission from the Public Service Commission of West Virginia to boost their monthly residential bill 11 percent because of declining sales. That was on top of a 29 percent increase between 2014 and 2018.
Customers in both states are furious that the regulators are going along.
“Our jobs available in this state are not a living wage, and many are working two, three jobs just to make it,” wrote Elizabeth Bland of Beckley, West Virginia, in her protest letter to the commission. “Please turn down this request from Appalachian Power for the sake of all West Virginians.”
Rising rates are just part of the problem.
Kentucky Power’s monthly bill also includes surcharges, and a line for each customer’s share of the utility’s fixed costs. These add up in precious dollars.
`They’re doubling down on coal at a time when coal is not competitive,’ said James M. Van Nostrand, a professor at the West Virginia University College of Law with decades of experience in the energy field. `It’s really tragic.’
The average bill per customer at Kentucky Power has been among the highest in the nation for an investor-owned utility, according to 2016 numbers from the U.S. Energy Information Agency, the most recent comparisons available.
`We’re hit hard,’ Alice Craft, a Whitesburg-area resident, told InsideClimate News. `The power companies, they are just greedy, greedy, greedy.’
This will inevitably happen to all regions depending primarily upon fossil-fuel fired electricity, including Massachusetts, with consequences for the public, for utility shareholders, for local real estate property values, and for local business expansion. Accordingly, the actions of the Massachusetts House on recent energy legislation is incredibly myopic to say the least, and does not support the stated goals of House leadership, especially those of Democratic House Speaker Robert DeLeo to `look out for the little guy’. His actions say he’s looking out for utility and energy companies, and the interests of AIM, whatever he says his motivations are.