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Environment & Energy

Pennsylvania Electric Companies Look To Raise Rates

Penn Power and West Penn Power customers could pay more for their electricity beginning this fall.

The companies, subsidiaries of FirstEnergy, filed rate hike requests with the state Public Utility Commission (PUC) Monday.

West Penn Power, which serves about 720,000 customers, is seeking an increase of more than $115 million per year. If approved, average residential customers would see a nearly 15 percent increase—or $13.26—in their monthly bill.

Penn Power is looking to increase its revenue by more than $28 million annually. If approved, the average customer would pay nearly 12 percent, or about $12, more per month.

FirstEnergy Pennsylvania subsidiaries Penelec and Met-Ed also requested an increase in distribution rate plans, totaling $271.7 million per year.

Scott Surgeoner, a FirstEnergy spokesman, said the corporation is raising rates to cover the more than $1.8 billion it’s invested in enhancement projects since 2006.

“It is now time that we catch up with some of that and have those revenues more closely match expenses as we continue to enhance our system,” he said.

The projects include replacing circuits and poles, bumping up substation security and tree trimmings. Surgeoner said trees are one of the leading causes of power outages in Pennsylvania.

“We do spend significant sums of money, up into the tens of millions of dollars per year in order to keep those trees away from our wires and conductors,” he said.

If the PUC okays the increases, the new rates could go into effect as early as October, but Surgeoner said he expects the investigation to go into next year.

“We anticipate that the Public Utility Commission will investigate our rate request,” he said. “In which case, the rates would not take effect and we wouldn’t expect to hear from the Public Utility Commission on a decision until sometime in April or very early May of 2015.”

For Penn Power, which has roughly 161,000 customers, this is the first distribution case filed in 26 years. It’s been 20 years for West Penn Power.