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Hearings set on 12 to 16 percent electricity rate hikes

By: Keith Gushard |

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission plans to hold public hearings next month on proposed electricity distribution rate hike requests of 16 percent for Penelec and nearly 12 percent for Penn Power.

Both subsidiaries of FirstEnergy Corp. provide electricity distribution service in Crawford County. While no public hearings are scheduled in Crawford County, there will be hearings regionally — in Erie, Warren and New Castle.

“The hearings are regionalized so customers may provide testimony at any of the public hearings,” Jennifer Kocher, PUC spokeswoman, said Monday.

In its rate filing request with the PUC in August, FirstEnergy said that since 2006 its four Pennsylvania utilities have invested more than $1.8 billion for service-related enhancement projects for customers that have not been recovered through rates.

For Penn Power, this is the first base rate case filed in 26 years, while for Penelec it is the first base rate case filing in eight years.

FirstEnergy said rate increases are needed to continue to make enhancements to its systems, including using technology to reduce the number of outages and the duration and number of affected customers when an outage happens.

If the increases are approved, planned additional enhancements would include replacing circuits, enhancing substation security, inspecting and replacing poles, and enhancing tree trimming activities.

Under the rate request for Penelec, the monthly electric bill for the average residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month would increase 16.3 percent, or $19.58 per month — from $120.46 to $140.04.

Under the rate increase request for Penn Power, the monthly electric bill for the average residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month would increase 11.8 percent, or $12.39 per month — from $104.76 to $117.15.

Earlier this month, the PUC suspended the proposed rate increases for up to seven months, pending conducting public hearings followed by a recommended decision or settlement from PUC staff. The PUC will make a final decision on the proposed rates by May 3, 2015.

Hearings in northwest Pennsylvania will be:

Nov. 5. at 1 and 6 p.m. at the Warren County Courthouse, Jackson Room, 204 Fourth Ave., Warren.

Nov. 7 at 1 and 6 p.m. at the Union Township Municipal Building, 1910 Municipal Drive, New Castle.

Nov. 10 at 1 and 6 p.m. at the Ambassador Banquet and Conference Center, 7794 Peach St., Erie.

Customer testimony will become part of the record on which the PUC will issue its final decision. The PUC and Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate offer tips on how to testify.

  • Prepare what to say beforehand.
  • If presenting a written statement to be given as evidence, have two copies for the court reporter and several copies for the other participants.
  • Be prepared for questions to clarify something said.