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Ward (pictured), a student in the
Entrepreneurship for Artisans program at
Southwest Virginia Community College, is shown
talking about a piece of her pottery at a
student art exhibit. The two-semester, 29
credit hour career studies certificate
provides talented artists with the business
skills to successfully market and promote
their art. For more information about the
program, contact Ellen Elmes at 276.964.7205.
Rate Hike Draws Local, State Official Opposition
Asked to Deny Approval for Increase
American Electric Power Company rate increase of some 22
percent is receiving strong opposition from local and state
officials, including State Senator Phillip Puckett.
they were proposing a modest rate increase, similar to the
increases in inflation and the consumer price index, then I
and my constituents would certainly have to understand that is
reasonable and is the cost of doing business in today's
climate," Puckett wrote in a letter addressed to Virginia
State Corporation Commission Chairman Mark C. Christie and
Commissioners Theodore V. Morrison, Jr. and Judith Williams
Jagdmann. "But, certainly not an increase that is in the
neighborhood of a 25 percent rate hike."
resolution opposing the rate increase was adopted by the
Buchanan County Board of Supervisors Monday on a motion by
Garden Supervisor Buddy Fuller and second by Knox Supervisor
Pat Justus. It was agreed to unanimously and will be forwarded
to state legislators and the governor as well.
say it's a 22 percent increase, but most people affected say
it (their bill) has been in the neighborhood of 50 percent to
100 percent," Fuller alleged.
has not been uncommon for average residents to report
experiencing electricity bills of some $300 to $400 or more
per month for the past two months, when in the past those
bills have been in the neighborhood of $200 to $250.
SCC allowed AEP to implement a rate hike on consumer
electricity bills in November, pending final approval by the
state regulatory agency this spring. In the event the rate
increase is not approved, AEP will have to refund consumers
whatever portion of the increase, if any, that is not allowed.
rate increase proposal is currently being reviewed by the SCC.
2006, AEP reported a profit of $1 billion, or $2.54 per share,
up 45 cents per share.
which has more than five
million customers in 11 states, saw its revenue rise to $12.6
billion last year, up from $12.1 billion in 2005.
majority of my constituents cannot afford this extreme rate
increase and will not be able to pay their electric bills and
will have a very difficult time with choosing between paying
for electricity, medicines, or food, which are the basic
necessities," Puckett continued in his letter to the SCC.
"I have constituents, many of them widows, calling me
constantly stating that they receive $600, $800, or $1,000 a
month and that is all they have to live on and are now
receiving $200 to $300 electric bills from AEP."
reminded members of the commission of the economic situation
in Southwest Virginia, asking them to consider the many
low-income families in the region before allowing the electric
company to move forward with the increase.
are looking to you and your fellow commissioners of the State
Corporation Commission to stop AEP's extreme and unreasonable
rate increase," he wrote. "I would respectfully ask
that you and your colleagues stop this unreasonable rate
increase and expedite your review of these increases so that
answers and relief can be provided to my constituents in
interested in expressing their concerns may contact the
commission toll-free (800) 552-7945 to state their opposition
to the increase.
Okay Closures on Rt. 680 to Expedite Work
Will See Road Closings as Early as March
Cathy St. Clair
authorizing the closure of Rt. 680, Bill Young Mountain, this
summer and during set hours later this spring and once the 2007-08
school year begins were adopted Monday by both the Buchanan County
Board of Supervisors and the Buchanan County School Board.
action followed a 20-minute public hearing, during which
representatives of a trucking company and Jewell Smokeless Coal
Corporation asked that a less restrictive closure plan be
implemented. The planned road closure, they said would mean longer
travel times for trucks hauling coal from mines in the Pilgrims
Inc. was awarded the $7.9 million contract on the project which
includes the elimination of steep curves and the lowering of the
gap on a 1.3-mile section of the road from the top of the mountain
at Contrary to Pilgrimís Knob. The project, which started
earlier this week, is expected to be completed by December 2008.
The planned road closures are expected to begin as early as March
and will be announced in advance of the start date to allow
motorists to plan alternate routes and travel times, according to
Virginia Department of Transportation Resident Engineer Conrad
the resolutions adopted Monday, the road will be closed completely
this summer after the current school year ends until the start of
the 2007-08 academic year. During the remainder of this school
year (once the closures begin) and throughout the next school
year, the road will be closed from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. while
school is in session. Motorists will be able to travel the road
during other hours not in that closure time. During holiday
periods and other times during which schools are scheduled to be
closed, the road will also be closed. The road may also be closed
at night from 7 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. to accommodate night
construction shift work.
noted that the Rt. 680 improvements are difficult due to the
excavation needed which will include blasting. Closing the road,
he said will allow for construction to proceed more quickly.
more quickly will make the project safer to construct overall and
ultimately, it is expected the project completion that way will
also result in savings of secondary road funds.
For more of the story, see
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