2017-07-19 / News

Ky. Power rates to be subject of meeting

A community meeting will be held in Whitesburg Thursday night to give Letcher County citizens the opportunity to voice their concerns of a rate hike proposed by Kentucky Power Company and being considered by the state Public Service Commission.

The meeting, scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. on July 20 in the Letcher County Courthouse “may be your only chance to stand up for yourselves and fight Kentucky Power,” one of the meeting’s organizers, Steve Brewer, writes in a Facebook post to Letcher County citizens.

“I have been asked to hold this meeting (and) I have accepted the challenge,” Brewer continues. “By me getting things ready, me showing up, and having the meeting I have kept my promise to the good people of Letcher County. But it will take everyone to fight this battle. It won’t be easy. It won’t be a short battle, but you can win. There are almost 10,000 households in Letcher County. I would like to see 5,000 people there. Although it affects everyone, I know we won’t have anywhere near that number but we will play with the hand we are dealt.”

Kentucky Power recently filed an application to the PSC seeking a regulatory review of base rates. If approved, new rates could go into effect in January 2018.

The company says the new rates are necessary because of a decrease of about 2,000 residential and about 450 industrial and commercial customers brought on by a struggling regional economy. The company says that in three years it has experienced a 14.2 percent drop in kilowatt usage because of the loss.

“We realize no one likes higher bills but I sincerely believe the rate adjustment is necessary to continue Kentucky Power’s reliable electric generation and high-quality customer service as well as our efforts to support economic development and return jobs to the region,” said Kentucky Power President Matt Satterwhite. “As a community partner, I’m proud that we have been a part of efforts to bring industry here. When we do that, we lessen the financial burden on individual customers, while bringing in dollars that can be used to invest in improving our electric service for all.”

Kentucky Power filed testimony supporting an increase of about $69.6 million overall through base rates, riders and the environmental surcharge. Residential customers using an average 1,247 kilowatthours per month would see an estimated increase of $24 per month or about 80 cents a day. Using the industry standard of 1,000 kilowatthours, a residential customer would see a monthly increase of about $20 or 67 cents a day. Rates for commercial and industrial customers would increase 8 to 15 percent, based on usage.

The company says the proposed increase will help fund:

• Additional investments in economic development and workforce training. Initiatives from Kentucky Power will help put former coal miners back to work by transitioning them to other industries, including metal fabrication, and aerospace and automotive manufacturing.

• Increased contributions to the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) to assist low income customers.

• New investments in Kentucky Power’s transmission and distribution systems to assure safe energy delivery to homes, businesses and communities. • Continued focus on service reliability with efficient vegetation management programs.

• Establish a mechanism to potentially avoid large increases in the future by adding costs gradually over the years as they are incurred.

• A companion filing will provide a simplified bill. Customers will receive a redesigned bill that streamlines many line items into base rates. The new bill will be easier to read and understand.

The Commission will determine if the new rate is adopted after a period of testimony and public comment. The Commission has six months to review the filing, ask questions, and schedule hearings.

In announcing the request for the rate increase and concerns over the resulting higher bills, Kentucky Power said it offers several diverse programs designed to help customers pay their electric bills and lower their bills by reducing their energy consumption.

The company cites for example the Whole House Efficiency Program, which is says can help customers identify areas of their home that may be losing valuable energy. Kentucky Power says it also offers extensions and payment plans designed to get customers through difficult times.

The company provides service to about 168,000 customers in most of Letcher and 19 other eastern Kentucky counties. It is an operating company of American Electric Power (AEP), one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, delivering electricity and custom energy solutions to nearly 5.4 million customers in 11 states. AEP owns the nation’s largest electricity transmission system, a more than 40,000-mile network that includes more 765-kilovolt extra-high voltage transmission lines than all other U.S. transmission systems combined.

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