To the Editor:
In the last few weeks, it has been suggested that we and our fellow state legislators somehow bear at least partial responsibility for the recent rate hike by Kentucky Power.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
In case there is any doubt, let us be clear: Nearly everyone we serve with in the General Assembly is no fan of this increase or the driving reason behind it: a move by the power company away from coal and toward natural gas.
Support for coal remains strong among those of us who truly understand its importance when it comes to providing affordable, reliable electricity. We are doing all we can to promote this resource here and abroad; we’re challenging federal regulations and rulings that have not helped our cause; and we’re fighting to help those families who have suffered during this unprecedented decline in production.
We are unfortunately taking on a challenge that is bigger than the state. We are not writing to oppose or defend the work of the Public Service Commission – that agency can speak for itself – but it is a gross exaggeration to say that it or the legislature could somehow stop or reverse a nationwide trend toward greater use of natural gas and the costs associated with that change.
Even so, the General Assembly is doing what it can to reduce the impact this is having. During the current legislative session, for example, that includes plans to help our college students obtain their four-year degree close to home and to tweak the coal severancetax formula so that our coal counties have about $10 million more for their local budgets. We also strongly support efforts to return all of the coal severance money to the coal-producing counties.
In the end, this is a time for us to pull together, not push each other apart. The challenges are too large to spend time assigning blame on an issue in which we are all fighting on the same side. The last thing we need to do now is weaken our voice.
Whatever happens going forward, we want Letcher Countians to know that we are committed to doing all we can to promote coal and to help those who depend on it. Those who imply we are doing anything less are wrong.
JOHNNY RAY TURNER