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    Appalachian Power's Virginia electric rates are expected to be about 10 percent lower for a majority of this winter than they were last year, according to a recent release from the company.

    In the release, the electricity provider noted that cheaper rates, combined with customers taking steps such as limiting air leaks and maintaining heating systems, could substantially lower residents' electricity bills.

    "The electric rate and customer usage are the two main components to a customers’ electric bill," Jaime Beckelhimer, Appalachian Power customer services manager, said in a statement. "Although the rate reflects the cost of service, customers do have a lot of say in controlling their usage."

    The electricity provider noted that its typical residential electric rate in Virginia is 9.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, and said no drastic changes are expected to affect this rate until February or March, when the majority of the winter weather has subsided. Additionally, while rate increase requests are reportedly pending, such moves would only bring that number back to the same level as in 2010, the company said.

    Electricity deregulation could further decrease bills for customers, as such legislation fosters competition that can ultimately drive down rates.