Virginia Electric and Power Company yesterday asked for a $96 million increase in revenues under a new procedure that could put the rate hike into effect as early as May 1.
The company asked for the highest increase allowable under a procedure put into operation earlier this month by Virginia's State Corporation Commission. The procedure establishes a maximum increase based on the company's base rate and the Consumer Price Index for the previous year. In exchange for staying under that ceiling, the procedure offers utilities the advantage of collecting the money almost right away.
The rate increase requested would add 7.1 percent to the winter bill of a Virginia residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours a month--or raise it $4.54 from $64.22 in April to $68.76. It would boost summer bills 6.6 percent--an increase of $4.53 on a 1,000 kilowatt-hours-a-month bill.
Vepco noted that electric bills will be reduced slightly as of today because of a fuel adjustment--a decrease of $553,000 overall, or 2 cents on a 1,000 kilowatt-hours-a-month bill--based on savings based on the utility's switch to cheaper fuel.
Utility officials also said that the residential increase requested is higher than the increase requested for commercial customers.
Vepco asked that the new rates go into effect in 30 days, as permitted under SCC guidelines. Unless the SCC rules otherwise, they will. If the SCC should ultimately disallow the full amount of the request, money would be refunded to customers. Vepco officials have said, however, that they don't expect that to happen.
Vepco Vice President for Regulation C. M. Jarvis said that the rate increase was needed--despite a reduction in fuel costs--to offset inflation in other costs and to make the company more attractive in financial markets.
He noted that Vepco paid $56 million more in interest costs in 1981 than in 1980. He added that Vepco, in its Virginia operations, earned a return on common stockholders' investment of 11.9 percent, compared with market interest rates of 15.75 percent to 20.5 percent.
In its filing, the electric company requested that it be allowed to earn up to 15.5 percent rate of return--half a percentage point higher than the rate approved in 1981.
Jarvis said that if Vepco had filed a rate increase request under normal general rate case procedures it would have asked for a $195 million increase in revenues--or 12.1 percent. But he added that Vepco sees greater advantage in boosting earnings by having the money in hand than in asking for the higher amount.
At the same time Vepco was asking for the increase in commercial and residential rates, it also filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission a request to raise rates for wholesale municipal and cooperative customers. Vepco asked for $3.7 million in additional revenue from wholesale municipal customers and a $14.6 million increase from cooperatives. Vepco requested that both increases be effective May 30.