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Setting the Stage: Power in Appalachian Virginia

For over a century, the best jobs in southern Appalachia, including Virginia, are found in the coal fields. Coal companies use local labor for immense profits that stay in the pockets of energy monopolies that control the region’s power grid. Appalachian Power (APCO), which covers approximately 1 million customers in West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee; Appalachian Power is a part of one of these massive state sponsored energy monopolies. American Electric Power (AEP) the parent company of Appalachian Power, covers nearly 5.5 million customers in their regulated service territory, spanning more than 200,000 square miles in 11 states. AEP grossed a profit of $2.703Billon in the quarter ending June 30, 2021, a 6.86% increase year-over-year while rates increased across all 11 states including Virginia.

West Virginia, Virginia, and Tennessee
Map of Appalachian Power

Appalachian power is a big part of this mega monopoly and is entangled greatly with AEP due to this it becomes increasingly hard to grabble with the size and strength of these companies. For many of the people who get their power form APCO the size of this company is only mirrored by the size of their bill which sees spikes and inconstant rates come every month. For many who live within the strangle hold of these companies the possibility of becoming homeless when these bills come increases as the season changes from summer to fall; with the daunting size of these bills and the harsh weather conditions people are forced out into the cold. The typical cost to run 1,000 kWh is $122.34, the conservative assumption of the average household in Virginia runs about 1,156 kWh Per Month, making the bill in the range of $142. For the winter months especially in the mountainous region of Appalachia it skyrockets to the near 2,000 kWh range which pushes it to the nearly $234.24 area a price tag that builds up.

(Prices calculated via https://www.appalachianpower.com/company/about/rates/va and https://www.electricitylocal.com/states/virginia/)

More than 50% of Southwest Virginia households in 2018 lived in poverty or earned less than the basic cost of living, according to a report released by the United Way of Virginia in November 2020. In The United States, the poverty threshold for a single person under 65 is annual income of US$12,760, or about $35 per day. So The threshold for a family group of four, including two children, was US$26,200, about $72 per day; on average the people of Southwest Virginia are dedicating $1,468.08 of their income to their power bill.

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