11/14/2011
APPALACHIAN POWER'S VIRGINIA RATES DOWN NEARLY 10 PERCENT THIS WINTER;
ACTING NOW COULD LOWER ELECTRIC HEATING BILLS EVEN MORE

ROANOKE, Va., November 14, 2011 – For most of this winter Appalachian Power’s Virginia electric rates will be about 10 percent lower than they were last year.  A cheaper electric rate could translate into even lower monthly electric bills if outdoor temperatures cooperate and customers take three steps – maintain their heating system, eliminate air leaks and sign up for the Average Monthly Payment Plan.

“The electric rate and customer usage are the two main components to a customers’ electric bill,” said Jaime Beckelhimer, Appalachian Power customer services manager. “Although the rate reflects the cost of service, customers do have a lot of say in controlling their usage. They also control how they choose to pay their bills.”

Electric Rates

Appalachian Power’s two most recent rate changes implemented in Virginia have been decreases: expiration of a surcharge that captured certain environmental expenses in January and implementation of a base rate change and a lower fuel factor in August 2010.

Appalachian Power’s typical residential electric rate in Virginia is 9.5 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). No significant change in this rate is anticipated until February or March when the most severe winter weather likely will have passed. There are rate increase requests pending, but if they are all approved the rate will return to about 10.5 cents/kWh, comparable to what it was for most of 2010.

 

Electric Usage

Although outdoor temperatures often dictate how hard heating systems work over the winter, customers ultimately control the thermostat setting, which significantly affects how much electricity is used to heat the home. Some customers like it hot in the winter and that costs more. Appalachian recommends a winter heating setting of 68 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Heating Equipment  

Colder outdoor temperatures require heating equipment to work longer and harder and that increases electricity usage. The equipment works harder when warm air seeps out of a home or cold air seeps in through inadequately insulated ceilings and walls, and through doors and windows.

Of course, the efficiency of the heating system is important, too. High-efficiency heat pumps save money because they use less energy to create heat than other options. Electric furnaces or space heaters are the least efficient electric heating options and can be quite expensive.

Improperly working heating equipment is also a reason customers often get a high electric bill. Appalachian Power customer services employees report that the top five heat pump problems that lead to a high electric bill are low refrigerant, a unit stuck in defrost, a blocked air filter, faulty or leaking duct work, and an improperly set digital thermostat. 

Managing your bill   

Customers have the ultimate say in how they pay their bill. They can choose to pay a bill that reflects their actual monthly usage and can be quite higher in winter months, or they can sign up for a plan that spreads the payment for higher usage months out over a longer period.

 Appalachian Power encourages customers to sign up for the Average Monthly Payment (AMP) Plan. AMP levels monthly payments because the customer pays a monthly amount equal to a 12-month rolling average usage.

Appalachian Power has almost 1 million customers in Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee (as AEP Appalachian Power). It is a unit of American Electric Power, one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, which delivers electricity to more than 5 million customers in 11 states. AEP ranks among the nation’s largest generators of electricity, owning nearly 38,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the U.S. AEP also owns the nation’s largest electricity transmission system, a nearly 39,000-mile network that includes more 765 kilovolt extra-high voltage transmission lines than all other U.S. transmission systems combined. 

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Todd Burns
Corporate Communications
(540) 985-2912
Cell: (540) 798-2686
tfburns@AEP.com

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