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Del. Skinner talks Charleston in Shepherdstown

By Staff | Apr 11, 2014

West Virginia State Del. Stephen Skinner, representative for Shepherdstown, addressed community members at Tuesday evening’s Community Club dinner.

Skinner discussed the legislature’s most recent session, detailing event’s surrounding the water contamination crisis and the West Virginia Public Service Commission’s investigation into Potomac Edison’s billing practices.

Skinner called the session ‘challenging.’

“The spirit of this session was really consumed by one thing: And that’s the poisoning of the water in the Elk River,” he said.

Following the Jan. 9 West Virginia American Water chemical spill–which contaminated the drinking water supply for Charleston and 300,000 West Virginians, Skinner said the state government swung into action.

“In a state that’s not known for being progressive on environmental issues and taking care of our water, we actually did something pretty amazing and we passed this thing called the ‘water bill,'” he said.

The “water bill,” passed through five committees, moving from the house to the senate repeatedly, in a process that Skinner said would normally kill a piece of legislation.

Sen. bill 373 will require increased vigilance in DEP regulation of above-ground storage tanks; increased protection for waterways, via a source-water protection plan proposal; and includes a call for a long-term investigation into the health effects of the chemical spill on residents, among other things.

“I don’t think there are a lot of disappointments in this bill, for people who believe in keeping our water safe,” he said,

In a discussion about the Potomac Edison Billing investigation, Skinner urged residents to continue contacting the Public Service Commission regarding issues.

During a public comments hearing held in Shepherdstown last October, Skinner demanded Potomac Edison take ‘real,’ responsibility for bad business practices.

“There is a duty to send an accurate bill. It’s simple.” he said.

“I think its absolutely obvious that at a minimum, the meters need to be read every month,” he said.

At the dinner Tuesday evening, Skinner said he still believes Potomac Edison is negligent in reading meters each month.

He also said the algorithm being used by Potomac Edison to calculate billing totals remains faulty.

“It’s still an ongoing problem,” he said.

During a question and answer period, residents asked Skinner a range of questions regarding issues including, transportation and state budget concerns.

Skinner said the Eastern Panhandle has the unique challenge of bouncing back from a national recession, in addition to more recent economic woes coming from the capital.

Skinner, who practices law at Charles Town’s longstanding, Skinner Law Firm, said he was glad to be amongst his constituency Tuesday night.

“As much as I love this job, the part about it that I’m not crazy about, is being away from here,” he said. “It’s good to be home.”