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Some South Dakota farmers are unhappy with industrial ag getting conservation funds; Texas judge allows abortion in Cox case; Native tribes express concern over Nevada's clean energy projects.

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The Colorado Supreme Court weighs barring Trump from office, Georgia Republicans may be defying a federal judge with a Congressional map splitting a Black majority district and fake electors in Wisconsin finally agree Biden won there in 2020.

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Texas welcomes more visitors near Big Bend but locals worry the water won't last, those dependent on Colorado's Dolores River fear the same but have found common ground solutions, and a new film highlights historical healthcare challenges in rural Appalachia.

West Virginians Could Face Higher Energy Bills Under Proposed Rate Hike

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Monday, July 31, 2023   

West Virginia residents' electricity rates have nearly doubled over the past decade - and may soon climb higher, under a nearly $650 million rate hike proposal by American Electric Power.

The company is asking the state's Public Service Commission to increase rates by 37% this year, or by 12% over each of the next three years, or by 3.5% a year indefinitely.

AEP says it needs the money to offset rising energy costs.

Critics like Jim Kotcon - chair of the Sierra Club's West Virginia Chapter - argued that the utility is focused on purchasing coal and natural gas for antiquated power plants, pushed to run beyond their expected lifespan.

"In essence," said Kotcon, "that means that AEP consumers are being asked to help subsidize electricity for the jurisdictions in order to keep acquiring those fuel reserves."

He said if the commission approves a rate increase, households could see higher bills as early as this fall.

Residents can submit comments about the rate-hike proposal online at 'psc.state.wv.us.'

Kotcon said renewable energy sources are much more cost effective than continuing to pay for high-price fossil fuels, especially in the face of extreme weather events driven by climate change.

Tens of thousands of AEP customers lost electricity last weekend after a series of severe storms.

Kotcon added that instead, the utility could be investing in practical solutions to ease the financial burden on its customers.

"We certainly know that energy-efficiency programs would've helped reduce customer bills overall," said Kotcon, "compared to what we're paying now."

According to research by MRO Electric, West Virginia ranks at the top among states for its frequency of power outages.



Disclosure: Sierra Club contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, Environmental Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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