APCo bill passes House 98-0

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By Ben Bomberger, Reporter

RICHMOND — Legislation introduced by Del. Bill Carrico (R-Grayson County) to end Appalachian Power Co.'s ability to impose interim rates passed the House of Delegates on Tuesday.

House Bill 1308 passed without a single vote cast in opposition and Carrico noted how important it is to protect customer's bills.

"I am pleased to see the unanimous support from my House colleagues on this bill," Carrico said. "This legislation has always been about coming together to help the people of Southwest Virginia in a difficult time."

While the bill must still pass the Senate, Carrico expects no problems as a nearly identical bill (SB 680) was introduced by Sen. Puckett and it has quickly worked its way through the Senate.

Final passage on SB 680 was expected by the end of the week, the delegate continued.

Because of the urgent nature of HB 1308, an emergency enactment clause was added that will allow the legislation to become law as soon as Gov. Bob McDonnell signs it, instead of the usual July 1 effective date.

The emergency enactment clause would also require APCo to stop collecting its current interim rate of 12.5 percent sooner, rather than later.

"I know from conversations with scores of my constituents that interim rates are a real problem, and they have had a devastating financial impact on my constituents, especially those on fixed incomes," Carrico said. "I am glad to see the end of interim rates in Virginia."

If HB 1308 is signed into law, it would prevent APCo from collecting on its latest base rate hike pending with the State Corporation Committee.

The SCC will hold its final hearing on the most recent hike in Richmond next month.

"I urge the citizens of Southwest Virginia to join me in contacting the SCC and voice your opposition to APCo's proposed rate hike," Carrico said. "Remember, if you want your comments included in the official case file, you must communicate with the commission in writing or electronically."

Carrico urges residents to use what he said is the quickest and easiest way to share comments by visiting AEPaction.org. The Web site allows visitors to share their comments directly with the SCC with just a few clicks of the mouse.

The evidentiary hearing will begin in Richmond on March 16 at 10 a.m. Public witness testimony will be accepted at the beginning of the hearing in the commission's second floor courtroom located in the Tyler Building at 1300 E. Main St. Any person wishing to offer public witness testimony should arrive early and sign in with the SCC bailiff.

•  Written comments on the proposal must be submitted by March 3. All correspondence should be sent to the Clerk of the State Corporation, Document Control Center, P.O. Box 2118, Richmond, VA 23218-2118, and refer to case number PUE-2009-00030. Comments can also be made electronically at the SCC's Web site scc.virginia.gov/case.