PSC approves plan to allow power companies to charge broadband surcharges

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The Public Service Commission of West Virginia has approved Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power’s application for a middle-mile broadband infrastructure expansion project in Logan and Mingo Counties and an associated cost recovery mechanism.  The West Virginia Legislature passed legislation in 2020 allowing the PSC to review written plans submitted by electric utilities to construct middle-mile fiber broadband assets within the power supply zone utilizing existing and new utility assets and for an associated cost recovery mechanism.

APCo/WPCo has proposed building a middle-mile broadband infrastructure expansion project for construction and installation of over 400 miles of fiber in Logan and Mingo Counties.  It is estimated that there are approximately 15,200 currently unserved potential customers (residential and business) in Logan and Mingo Counties.  It is also estimated that 60% of the unserved residents and 90% of unserved businesses in the project area would take the new broadband service, once it is offered.

APCo will be allowed to recover costs of the investment through a Broadband Surcharge (BBS) applied to customers’ bills.  The estimated cost to APCo’s residential customers is projected to be less than 20 cents per month system-wide.

“Lack of broadband service has a crippling effect in rural areas of West Virginia,” said PSC Chairman Charlotte Lane.  “Businesses, schools, and students have suffered and fallen behind due to the lack of connectivity.  The Public Service Commission is pleased to be able to play a role in getting West Virginia connected.”

The projected capital cost for the project is approximately $61.3 million with an annual operations and maintenance cost of approximately $1.2 million in the first year and $1.74 million per year in future years. 

Additional information, including the Final Order, is available on the Commission website: www.psc.state.wv.us by referencing Case No. 21-0032-E-IMM.

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