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American Electric Power Seeks 45% Rate Hike

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio held a public hearing Tuesday on a rate increase request by American Electric Power. The company wants to raise electric rates 45 percent over the next 3 years.

American Electric Power said in a press release that it's faced with the skyrocketing cost of conventional fuels and infrastructure costs to keep the system up and running. That's why, according to the company, it's asking the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio for an increase that will total 45 percent in three years. Vicki Michalski is a spokeswoman for AEP.

"Well we have asked for essentially a 15 percent rate increase for a period of three years; for each year starting with 2009, 2010, and 2011. We actually haven't had a base rate increase for some time since the early 90s," Michalski says.

At the hearing, several representatives from civic organizations spoke on behalf of the company. But many heads of families and small businesses owners did not. They wanted to know why AEP needs such a large increase. Deria King says she's raising 3 grandchildren.

"It's always the taxpayers; we're bailing out everybody else," King said. "Companies are raising rates. There is no money in households and it's hard to pay bills; I'm having a hard enough time as it is now taking care of the family that I have now and then we're constantly having added expense put on our back when nobody is asking us, can we afford to do this."

Ann Miller, who identified herself as a small business owner from Hilliard said she was certain she would not be able to pass the increased costs along to her customers. She said she'd just have to tighten her belt to get by. And she suggested that AEP do the same.