Industrial power bill dies in Senate
CHARLESTON — A bill that would have given electricity rate breaks to corporations and other major utility users died in the West Virginia Senate Wednesday.
Senate Bill 600 would have allowed the state Public Service Commission to give special lower rates to industrial and manufacturing companies that use a lot of electricity.
In order to qualify for rate relief under the provisions of the bill, the industry or manufacturer would have had to show that “the electric energy consumed in the industrial or manufacturing process constitutes or will constitute at least 10 percent of the cost of production, create or retain at least 25 full-time jobs in West Virginia, have invested not less than $500,000 in fixed assets, including machinery and equipment, in West Virginia” and show that the rate reduction was necessary for the business to keep operating in the Mountain State, according to the text of the bill.
Sen. Ryan Ferns, R-Ohio, one of the sponsors of the bill, said SB 600 was needed to keep major manufacturers from moving from West Virginia to states with cheaper utility costs. Over the past 20 years or so, West Virginia has gone from one of the states with the cheapest utility costs to one of the more expensive.
But several lobbying groups, including AARP, were against the bill.
Sen. Mike Romano, D-Harrison, said the cost of giving breaks on electricity for major manufacturers would be passed on to other electric consumers in the state.
“The only way they would recoup those discounts would be to pass it on to the other users, including our seniors,” Romano said. He said trying to retain manufacturing in the state should not be put “on the backs of consumers.”