Local News

LG&E Customers Weigh In On Rate Hike Proposal

By Rick Howlett

Louisville Gas and Electric customers lined up Monday evening to comment on rate increases requested by the utility.

The hearing at Male High School was conducted by the Kentucky Public Service Commission, which is holding meetings across the state on rate hikes proposed by LG&E and its sister company, Kentucky Utilities.        

The utilities say they’re needed to pay for infrastructure improvements and for damage caused by recent weather disasters. 

Louisville resident Vernon Cook says he understands the need to meet those expenses, but the hikes should be based on energy consumption, rather than imposed uniformly on all customers

“This allows fair competition with other forms of energy and it puts the economic burden on customers that consume the most energy, thereby avoiding an unfair economic burden on the poor,” he said.

LG&E is asking for an increase of about 12-percent for residential electricity. It’s also proposing a monthly natural gas rate increase of about $4.65, plus a hike in its monthly gas meter fee.

The rate case is not affected by the companies’ pending sale to PPL Corporation.

A ruling from the PSC is expected this summer.

Environment Local News

Local Utilities Ready for Greenhouse Gas Reporting

31 different industry sectors are now required to track and, in 2011, report their greenhouse gas emissions under a mandatory reporting rule the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency enacted last Fall.  Now, the agency wants additional sectors to track some of the smaller sources, and local utility E.on-US has been preparing for the requirements, according to spokesman Brian Phillips.

“We don’t think that these new expanded CO2 reporting mandates will add much burden to our staff and won’t directly cost the customers through the proposed reporting requirements,” says Phillips.

The new requirements cover methane — a powerful global warming gas – that can escape from natural gas operations, among other sources.  The EPA estimates the reporting would cover more than 85% of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.  Industrial sources only have to report those emissions for now, not control them.

Local News

Utilities Have Three Months To Respond To PSC Storm Report

Officials with Louisville-based utility E.ON U.S. say they’re eager to evaluate the recommendations included in a report from the Kentucky Public Service Commission on last September’s windstorm and January’s ice storm.

The two disasters left hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians without power.

The report released Thursday includes 64 findings and recommendations for utilities and others. They include improving communication with customers, strengthening of overhead power lines and bolstering backup power for cell phone towers. ice storm pic

E.ON U.S. spokesperson Chris Whelan says the PSC did a thorough job of compiling information for the report.

“i think there are a lot of suggestions in there that will help all of the utilities going forward in the event somthing like this were to occur. We as a company see that the process was very well done and comprehensive,” Whelan said.

“We’ll evaluate the various recommendations and see how that plays into our strategy and what improvements we can make. I will say we are already on the way to several of the improvements.”

She says one of those improvements, an enhanced outage map, is already in the works.

“In the first quarter of 2010, we will roll out interactive maps that show people not only their zip code but their county and even down to the street level and where outages are and where crews are and so forth. so that will be a big improvement for us,” Whelan said.

Utililty companies under the PSC’s jurisdiction have about three months to respond to the report.

(Photo courtesy of the Kentucky Public Service Commission)