LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Appalachian Power Company (AEP) is asking state regulators to allow it to raise its rates. That would mean customers’ bills could rise by about $16 a month. However, the original proposal could have seen increases of around $20-25 a month.

The new proposal was filed Tuesday, the State Corporation Commission is expected to rule on the request later this year.

Dana Wiggins with the Virginia Poverty Law Center (VPLC) says this increase is not a matter of ‘if’ it is a matter of ‘how much?’

“Whether they were due an increase or not was not necessarily up for debate, it was really how much,” said Wiggins.

She says while a $16 monthly increase may not seem like much to some people, for those struggling financially, it can mean having to make sacrifices on day-to-day expenses like groceries or gas, just to cover utilities.

“For a lot of people, that really adds up, especially with all of the inflationary costs that everyone is bearing,” said Wiggins,

Wiggins says multiple people have come to VPLC needing help with their energy bills, and some even publicly testified at a public hearing this week regarding the proposal.

However, Teresa Hall with Appalachian Power explained this deal is necessary for them to keep operations going.

“This increase was needed to help us cover the costs of, increased costs of, material, labor costs, just the overall distribution of electricity, all of those costs have increased,” said Hall.

According to Hall, over the past five years, she estimates the cost per kilowatt hour has increased to around 40%

With increases, Hall says there are resources available through AEP for those who are struggling financially. Adding that if this proposal is approved, some families will qualify for a discounted rate of around $8 per month instead of $16.

Wiggins also says people can get energy assistance through various government programs including LIHEAP, as well as a new program starting up this Fall called “Percentage of Income Payment Program.”

Further information can be found on the AEP website. You can find resources to help cover costs for your bills on the VPLC website.