Mon Power, Potomac Edison ask for $96 million rate increase in West Virginia

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FirstEnergy Corp. units Mon Power and Potomac Edison jointly submitted a request to the Public Service Commission (PSC) of West Virginia for a rate increase of $96 million.

The request was filed to move the costs currently being collected for the Harrison generation transaction to Mon Power's and Potomac Edison's permanent rates. Submitting this filing was part of the PSC's order approving the Harrison generation transaction last fall, transferring full ownership of the Harrison Power Station to Mon Power to help ensure a continued supply of reliable power to FirstEnergy's West Virginia customers.

The filing 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.

The filing also includes the cost of the companies' new tree trimming program, as well as existing vegetation-management programs. The new program is designed to help reduce the frequency and shorten the duration of outages. It was recently approved by the PSC, with cost recovery deferred to this rate case.

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.

The requested rate increases are subject to PSC review. Any increase in rates would not become effective until approved and authorized by FERC, which is expected to occur in February 2015.

Mon Power serves about 385,000 customers in 34 West Virginia counties and Potomac Edison serves about 135,000 customers in the state's Eastern Panhandle.

FirstEnergy serves customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and New York. Its subsidiaries currently control nearly 18,000 MW of capacity from a diversified mix of scrubbed coal, non-emitting nuclear, natural gas, hydro and other renewables.

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