Consumer And Faith Groups Oppose AEP's Latest Rate Hike Proposal
Duke Energy and Columbus-based American Electric Power want to increase their monthly fixed charge that is paid before the meter starts running. Fixed charges cover expenses for distribution and equipment and typically are based on the volume of electricity consumed. A-E-P customers could see their monthly fixed charge rise nearly 120 percent to 18-dollars-40 cents. Customers of Duke Energy would see a 280 percent increase to 22-dollars-77 cents a month. The utilities say the charges would better reflect the cost associated with serving each customer, and will be balanced by reductions in other charges. The proposals are raising concerns among consumer groups and some members of Ohio's faith community. They say the rate hikes would disproportionately harm the poor. Grant Eckhart is pastor of Jacob's Porch Lutheran Campus Ministry in Columbus.
Eckhart says the plans remove a customer incentive to reduce electricity use. He is urging customers to contact the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, where hearings on the plans will be held on June 6.
More than 16 thousand people have already asked the commission to reject the proposals.