In written testimony, Richard Hornby, an expert for the PSC consumer advocate, explained that it's more difficult for utility regulators to truly assess requests for rate hikes through those sorts of separate proceedings.
Ferguson and Apco President Charles Patton testified that their company opposes delaying any cost-recovery petitions until Appalachian's next base-rate case. However, on cross-examination by PSC staff attorney Leslie Anderson, Ferguson said the most recent AEP annual report to stockholders said company officials would be "seeking cost recovery when they file their next base rate cases."
Also Wednesday, PSC Chairman Michael Albert grilled Sierra Club expert witness Jeffrey Loiter about whether efficiency programs are popular in West Virginia and can really save energy and money.
"You're talking about thousands of jobs," Albert said, "and I don't know that it's supported to the extent that you or the people who you work for are satisfied."
Albert said he wanted more "hard evidence" that Appalachian Power could address a larger portion of its generation deficit with programs to replace light bulbs and appliances or help residents improve home energy efficiency.
Citing various industry reports, Loiter's written testimony said Appalachian could save ratepayers $1.2 billion through 2026 and create 6,000 jobs by improving its demand-side energy efficiency programs.
Cathy Kunkel, an expert witness for the WV-CAG, said in her testimony that Appalachian Power's modeling of energy efficiency programs -- estimating long-term savings of 3.3 percent over 10 years -- is a "weak target." WV-CAG and the Sierra Club urged the PSC to force Apco to set a higher goal of more than 9 percent savings over a decade.
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.