A company's base rate covers the utility's fixed costs and earns a return. FirstEnergy's current West Virginia return (profit) is 10.5%. Base rate cases are filed infrequently, usually at the initiative of the utility if it thinks it can increase earnings by doing so, or it may be ordered by a regulator as part of another deal.
FirstEnergy has asked for a $96M rate increase. I haven't read the filing at the PSC yet, but I received several copies of this company-generated rubbish in my email today. The company doesn't mention its requested return percentage, so I will assume it's the same, or even higher.
In addition to the more than a billion dollar cost of "buying" Harrison, the rate increase also includes:
...recovery of costs associated with storm repairs from the 2012 Derecho and Hurricane Sandy, along with operating costs at power stations, including new environmental control equipment. In addition, the rate request includes hiring 50 new company employees to help enhance service reliability.
Currently, the monthly bill for a typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours is about $92.62. If the proposed rate increase, including the cost of the new tree trimming program, is granted, the monthly bill would be about $106.79.
Mon Power and Potomac Edison have not filed for an increase in base rates for nearly five years. The companies’ last major rate changes were a decrease in fuel-related rates of 5 percent on Jan. 1, 2013, and a rate reduction of 1.5 percent in October 2013 due to the Harrison acquisition.
Even with the full proposed increase and tree trimming surcharge, Mon Power and Potomac Edison residential rates would be 10 percent lower than the national average residential rates.
To help customers manage their bills, Mon Power and Potomac Edison offer an average payment plan, special payment plans, and access to energy assistance programs.
Oh, and let's not forget... that extra $96M out of your pockets will now guarantee you better service!
“The filing will help ensure continued safe and reliable electric generation for our customers,” said Holly Kauffman, president of FirstEnergy’s West Virginia Operations. “On the utility side of our operations, the new employees will include linemen, engineers, supervisors and other personnel to help make the service we provide our customers even better and meet anticipated business growth in our state.”