We've been following AEP's pummeling at the hands of fed up customers in Ohio. Earlier this week, AEP-Ohio had a serendipitous changing of the guard when the President (who got them into this mess) left for another job with a gas company. "Curiouser and curiouser," cried Alice...
Today, AEP-Ohio held what they called a public forum at the PUCO, although PUCO denied official responsibility for the process as being a part of any active case. Over a hundred angry customers from all classes, such as small business, large business, residential, schools, non-profits, etc., showed up to return a little of their misery to AEP.
The mayor of Hillsboro had this to say, "AEP lit a prairie fire with its destructive actions and brought itself intractable and vocal critics, including myself and the people I represent."
Customers also told AEP they're tired of the incomprehensible gibberish that goes on in rate cases and in the bills they receive. AEP pretended to take a lesson and incorporate the customers' concerns in their new rate filing expected next week. Somehow, I don't believe that AEP hasn't started putting together their rate filing yet. I would bet it's already done and the most the public's concerns will do is slightly modify things here and there. If AEP really cared what the consumers think, they would have been paying attention all along, instead of ignoring consumer pain and crowing about their earnings every quarter. These consumers aren't going away, and AEP is unlikely to truly change their behavior. This story will continue...
Meanwhile, in Virginia, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who desperately wants to be elected Governor next year has been holding town hall meetings to grandstand as "the people's lawyer" and pretend to explain electric rate increases to the voters. He vigorously defended AEP's Appalachian Power subsidiary's recent rate increases and said they were caused by anything but the truth -- AEP's out-of-control coal addiction. The only problem here is that ol' Kook doesn't know what the heck he's talking about. He said previous rate increases in Virginia are the fault of the EPA (for regulations that haven't even been effected yet).
He must have served some really potent Koolaid, as one Stepford wife said on her way out the door, “The EPA regulations are having a negative effect on the rates for people.”
But where was Kooky Ken when Appalachian Power was granted recovery of 50% of their charitable contributions from ratepayers last year? He forgot to mention that! I guess "the people's lawyer" is looking for some of "the power company's campaign contributions."
Also this week, AEP officially notified PJM and SPP of anticipated plant closures. It ended up being over 1,000 MW less than AEP has been bellyaching over since June, due to some creative math that suddenly made it more economical to install a scrubber on Big Sandy than to repower one of the units with natural gas (not that anyone believes them). The Little Drummer Boy's canned quote shows how much denial of fact still predominates at AEP.
"Our retiring units were required to run to meet peak demand last summer, and little new generation is scheduled to come on line prior to the retirement dates to replace this lost generating capacity."
He continues to ignore the fact that previous "peak" is being vigorously hacked down to size by booming demand side management and energy efficiency. Oh, cry me a river!
Closer to home in West Virginia, Appalachian Power is salivating at the thought of Century Aluminum reopening. Century has been offered a $20M "tax break" to pay for electricity supplied by APCo. And whose pocket do taxes come from? Yours! Be sure to thank your legislator for that one!
Also, APCo has polished up its "economic development efforts" by re-hiring some guy they laid off years ago. Good luck with that, I'm sure businesses just can't wait to relocate to West Virginia, where they will be paying off old coal debt for power that was consumed by other ratepayers in 2008. What an incentive!
What will AEP do for an encore next week?