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Kentucky Power’s rate request draws fire

Organizations ranging from the Sierra Club to the American Association of Retired Persons are opposing a rate hike requested by Kentucky Power Company.

The Kentucky Public Service Commission held hearings on the proposal online on Friday, Nov. 13, and Monday, Nov. 16, and received several comments from residents asking that the rate increase be denied. Most were from residents on fixed incomes worried that the proposed increase, described variously as 16 percent to 25 percent, would leave them unable to pay their electric bills this winter. Others also criticized the company’s record of repairs and what one termed wasting money on public relations.

“I see no valid reason for (Kentucky Power) to seek or to have an increase,” wrote Helen McAllister of Ashland, who said she is older and lives on a fixed income. “There is no repayment to customers when electricity is out for hours or even most of 24 hours.”

Hattie Baldridge, also of Ashland, said she is on Social Security and has never received a 25 percent increase.

“I am wondering if the CEO could possibly take a decrease in wages to help with your added cost and loss of income,” she wrote.

Gail S. Rouse, also of Ashland, was more blunt, suggesting that anyone asking for such a large raise in times such as this is “mentally unbalanced.”

Susan Rose Robinson listed more than $340,000 in donations made by the company’s foundation, and questioned whether that money would not be better spent covering the company’s own costs to avoid asking for a rate increase.

“Might I offer the suggestion to AEP/KY Power that they could benefit all of their fellow citizens by offering a low-cost product and paying a decent wage to their employees rather than writing checks for PR and tax breaks,” Robinson wrote.

AARP has taken out advertisements in The Mountain Eagle and other newspapers urging residents to “raise your voice before they raise your rates.”

“Right now, Kentucky Power wants to raise your rates by 16 percent, and increase the monthly charge you pay before even turning on the lights,” the ad says. “AARP is fighting for residential utility customers because too many Kentucky families struggle to pay their electric bill along with other necessities like food and medicine.”

It urges residents to visit the Internet site action.aarp.org/ KYRateHike and tell the PSC to reject Kentucky Power’s rate request.

Kentucky Power submitted a credit report from Moody’s Investor’s Service in support of its request, but made a motion that the report be kept confidential. The PSC granted the request, so the report cannot be seen by the public.

The next hearing on the rate request is expected to be December 10.

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