By CASEY JUNKINS
Special to the Herald-Star
ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Despite concerns that electricity rates may skyrocket amid more stringent environmental standards for coal-fired power plants, American Electric Power is looking to reduce rates for Ohio customers by an average of 9 percent.
AEP Ohio's Electric Security Plan filed with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio would allow those who continue to purchase electricity from the company to realize the discount from June 1, 2015, to May 31, 2018.
"This filing also fulfills the commission's objective for a full transition to market - and continues AEP Ohio's efforts to improve reliability, while lowering overall electricity costs," said Pablo Vegas, AEP Ohio president and chief operating officer.
Because of electricity deregulation in Ohio, customers will now have the option to purchase power from the provider of their choice. Knowing that some of its customers may seek a better deal from competitor FirstEnergy Corp., AEP officials hope to control costs as much as possible.
"This a three-year view. After that, we cannot predict what will happen," said Terri Flora, AEP spokeswoman. "If customers are staying with us as a generation provider, they can see this discount."
For residential customers using an average of 1,000 kilowatt hours per month, the plan would lower a customer's total monthly bill by approximately $9 in June 2015. The overall average rate discount of 9 percent includes all customers, residential and commercial.
The company's proposal before the PUCO also asks for continued support of its distribution infrastructure investment program, as well as the opportunity to create new jobs under a skilled work force and veteran initiative.
AEP believes the PUCO will rule on the matter this summer. AEP Ohio provides electricity to nearly 1.5 million customers of two major AEP subsidiaries, Ohio Power Co. in Ohio and Wheeling Power Co. in Marshall and Ohio counties in West Virginia.
As AEP awaits this decision from Ohio regulators, the corporation anticipates a ruling by the Public Service Commission of West Virginia regarding whether it can transfer half of the Mitchell Plant's generation capacity to another subsidiary, Appalachian Power Co. The coal-fired Mitchell plant is 42 years old, but had scrubbers installed in 2007. AEP has already announced plans to shutter the nearby Kammer plant by the end of this year.