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CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Starting this month, West Virginia’s utility consumers will see lower electricity bills after a coalition of industrial customers, including members of the West Virginia Manufacturers Association (WVMA), successfully negotiated lower power rates following passage of the Tax Cut & Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017.

The West Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC) ruled August 24 that power companies must provide reductions for all West Virginia ratepayers beginning in September.

One of the most influential groups to argue in favor of rate reductions, made possible by the Trump Administration’s tax cut plan, was the West Virginia Energy Users Group, which has many members in common with the WVMA.

“West Virginia is an energy-producing state and should always strive for competitive energy options for industrial users and job creators,” said WVMA President Rebecca McPhail. “Our members know first-hand that a healthy industrial base means lower rates for residential consumers of energy. This is positive progress toward creating a growth environment.”

The Energy Users Group actively participated in the case at the PSC and helped negotiate and support resolutions that will require FirstEnergy (on behalf of its subsidiaries, Mon Power and Potomac Edison) and American Electric Power (on behalf of its subsidiaries Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power) to provide rate reductions for all ratepayers, including large manufacturing and industrial ratepayers, effective September 1. 

“This is the right outcome and reflects the intent of the TCJA to benefit all consumers,” said Derrick Williamson, attorney for the Energy Users Group. “Importantly, we have been working hard to do everything we can to make West Virginia’s electric rates for manufacturing and industry more competitive with surrounding states, and these rate reductions are a step in the right direction.”

On the FirstEnergy system, rates for large commercial, manufacturing, and industrial customers were reduced by 2 percent or more, and the “large user” class of customers will realize annual rate reductions of nearly $10 million, which will continue into the foreseeable future.

On the AEP system, the approved settlement provided rate reductions for business and industry in the range of 2-4 percent for an initial six-month period, with smaller reductions continuing through June 2020. The total, approved tax-related rate reductions and credits for large industrial and manufacturing customers of AEP are in excess of $23 million.

The WVMA is comprised of more than 175 companies representing a broad range of manufacturing sectors including chemical, food grade, hardwood, steel and automotive manufacturing. The manufacturing industry employees more than 47,000 West Virginians at competitive wage levels, accounting for nearly 10 percent of the state’s total output.