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Some Kentuckians Could Lose Energy-Efficiency Programs

Utility programs that offer rebates for the purchase of energy efficient appliances are popular among Kentucky electric customers. (Andy Melton/Flickr)
Utility programs that offer rebates for the purchase of energy efficient appliances are popular among Kentucky electric customers. (Andy Melton/Flickr)
December 26, 2017

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Programs that help some Kentuckians save money on their utility bills could go by the wayside.

Louisville Gas and Electric, and Kentucky Utilities, want to end more than a dozen energy-efficiency programs for residential customers.

The companies say the programs have been such a success that they have saved the energy equivalency of a new power plant, and have become no longer cost effective.

But Wallace McMullen, conservation chair with the Greater Louisville Sierra Club, says the devil is in the details. He contends that in their evaluations, LG&E and KU undervalue the cost of electricity.

"Louisville Gas and Electric sells electricity to their customers at 10 cents a kilowatt hour,” he points out. “However, if we manage to save electricity and reduce consumption, they say the kilowatt hours we have reduced are only worth 3 cents a kilowatt hour."

Furthermore, the high-demand charge for customers is 19 cents a kilowatt hour, which McMullen points out the company values at zero cents a kilowatt hour when evaluating energy-efficiency programs.

The Kentucky Public Service Commission is reviewing the proposal to see if it passes a cost efficiency analysis.

The programs the companies want to eliminate include rebates for appliances and windows, home energy audits and energy efficiency education programs in schools.

According to the companies, the changes would lower customers’ bills between $8 and $12 a month in 2018.

But McMullen counters that the programs are popular among customers and save money in the long term.

"Efficiency is good,” he states. “It reduces consumer bills, it reduces the burning of coal, it reduces air pollution, it reduces spending money on environmental controls, it reduces money for operation and maintenance."

McMullen says energy efficiency will be critical for Kentucky to compete successfully in the economy of tomorrow.

Utility companies are required to evaluate energy efficiency programs every three years, and the current programs are set to expire at the end of 2018.

LG&E and KU are asking the Public Service Commission to extend 18 other programs through 2025, many that McMullen says help low-income Kentuckians.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - KY