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Utility Rate Hike Challenged

PHOTO: AARP is leading a petition drive against rate hike requests by sister power companies, KU and LG&E. Photo by Greg Stotelmyer.
PHOTO: AARP is leading a petition drive against rate hike requests by sister power companies, KU and LG&E. Photo by Greg Stotelmyer.
April 13, 2015

LEXINGTON, Ky. - The state's leading senior organization, AARP, is leading a petition drive against proposed rate increases by sister utility companies, Kentucky Utilities Company (KU) and Louisville Gas and Electric Company (LG&E).

The Public Service Commission's second public meeting on the requests is this evening in Lexington. Bill Harned, a senior citizen from Shepherdsville, says he wrote a letter to the regulatory agency calling the proposed rate hikes "excessive."

"It would have a lot wider ranging impact on marginal income people than just the fact they were going to have to pay such a large meter rate," says Harned.

LG&E proposes increasing electric rates by 2.7 percent and natural gas revenues by 4.2 percent. The KU request is for a 9.6 percent increase to its base rate. The power companies claim even with the increases they will still have some of the lowest energy costs in the nation.

The power companies have told the state's regulatory agency the hikes would help pay for a new gas-fired electric power plant that is replacing a coal-fired plant. Harned questions how well the power companies planned for the tougher Environmental Protection Agency rules on greenhouse gas emissions.

"Most companies who foresee a need to make investments in equipment start preparing when the need becomes known" says Harned. "LG&E and KU seem to be saying 'well, golly gee, we just all of a sudden have to build some new power plants.'"

The Public Service Commission's evidentiary hearing on the rate hike requests begins April 21.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY