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Posted May 23, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Electric bills set to go up

Allegheny wins interim increase beginning July 1

By James Heffernan -- jheffernan@nvdaily.com

Allegheny Power customers in the Northern Shenandoah Valley will see their bills go up an average of 6 percent beginning this summer.

The State Corporation Commission this week granted an interim rate increase totaling $19.4 million, effective July 1. As a result, the average Allegheny residential customer's electric bill will increase by $5.47 to approximately $96 a month, the company said.

The temporary hike is subject to refund until the SCC issues a final order setting the company's purchased power factor. A public hearing in the case is scheduled for Sept. 16 in Richmond.

Allegheny filed for the rate increase on April 29. The company says the increase is necessary to recover the costs of providing electricity to its approximately 102,000 Virginia customers. Allegheny doesn't own its own generators and must buy electricity on the wholesale market.

Allegheny cited the rising cost of doing business in Virginia as a factor in the recent decision to sell its Potomac Edison Co. subsidiary to Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative and Rappahannock Electric Cooperative.

SVEC, based in Mount Crawford, currently serves about 39,000 customers in Shenandoah, Augusta and Rockingham counties. If state regulators sign off on the sale, it will pick up Page County, Winchester and portions of Warren and Frederick counties. The remaining portion will be served by REC, based in Fredericksburg.

The deal is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The two cooperatives have agreed to keep their customer rates steady through June 2011.

Allegheny says its new rates are consistent with an SCC-approved agreement reached in November 2008 between the company and a coalition of Winchester and Frederick County businesses that capped rate hikes for 2009-10 at 15 percent.

Allegheny had originally anticipated the need for a 15 percent hike this summer, but the market price for electricity has dropped significantly since, according to company officials.

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