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A new study shows health disparities cost Texas billions of dollars; Senate rejects impeachment articles against Mayorkas, ending trial against Cabinet secretary; Iowa cuts historical rural school groups.

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The Senate dismisses the Mayorkas impeachment. Maryland Lawmakers fail to increase voting access. Texas Democrats call for better Black maternal health. And polling confirms strong support for access to reproductive care, including abortion.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Kentucky Power rate hike: What eastern KY residents, businesses should know

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Monday, February 26, 2024   

Many eastern Kenuckians will see their monthly energy bills increase by around $8 per month, after a ruling last month by the state's utility regulator greenlighting rate hikes for homeowners, renters, and businesses in the region.

The Public Service Commission struck down an initial request for an 18% rate hike for homeowners.

Seth Long, executive director of the nonprofit Homes Incorporated, said he is grateful regulators decided to cap the increase, but small businesses will see their rates spike about 10%. He is worried about the economic impact on local communities.

"This is one of the most difficult regions in the country to run a small business," Long asserted. "I'm very concerned about our small businesses in Eastern Kentucky and this rate hike."

Kentucky Power said a dwindling population and loss of industrial customers in its service region are driving up rates. Residents can file public comments on the company's outline of its plans for the next 15 years through Kentuckians for Energy Democracy.

According to state data, eastern Kentucky residents already pay the highest average energy bill in the Commonwealth, at around $187 per month.

Josh Bills, senior energy analyst for the Mountain Association, said his organization's clients - businesses, nonprofits and local governments in the region - will pay an additional $600,000 per year for their electricity, on top of taxes and surcharges. He added ratepayers need more resources to deal with the unique challenges facing eastern Kentucky, including investments in renewable energy.

"In combination with a lot of home-energy improvements, efficiency improvements, having policies where customers can cost-effectively offset their loads so that load is available to others," Bills outlined.

The Public Service Commission also approved a provision which would extend the amount of time customers have to pay their bills from 15 days after billing to 21 days, and it approved language limiting when residential customers can be disconnected for nonpayment.

Disclosure: The Mountain Association contributes to our fund for reporting on Community Issues and Volunteering, Consumer Issues, Environment, and Rural/Farming Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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