By Ryan Cornell
Starting July 2014, customers formerly served by Allegheny Power and now by the Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC) may see their electric bills increase.
The rise in rates comes as the result of the REC acquiring a portion of the Virginia distribution assets of Allegheny Power, which was approved in July 2010.
The REC filed a plan on Monday with the State Corporation Commission to increase the bills of former Allegheny Power customers over a three-year period. The plan calls for the rates to be cost-based and match the rates that all REC customers are billed by 2017.
The three-year transition plan, established by the commission to protect consumers, restricted an annual adjustment of no more than 5 percent for consumers using 1,000 kWh of electricity.
Ann Lewis, director of communications and public relations at REC, said consumers using 1,000 kWh of electricity per month would see an increase of about $5 a month beginning next July. She said consumers would see a comparable adjustment in July 2015 and July 2016.
"The reason was to avoid a sudden rate impact for its members," she said about the multi-year plan. "New rates will adjust the customers to current costs."
She said rates for Allegheny Power members haven't changed since 1994, when they were frozen by the commission.
The increase would affect members of Shenandoah, Warren, Frederick, Clarke, Rockingham and Page counties.
She said the new members have benefited from initiatives over the past three years to bring these areas up to REC standards.
"Cleaning out vegetation in rights of way, upgrading substations and distribution lines, improving preventative maintenance and automating metering infrastructure," Lewis said as examples of these initiatives.
The increase would only occur if the commission approves the plan. Lewis said approval could happen by May 2014.
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org