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Utility Customers Reponsible for Some Repairs

Less than 4000 Louisvillians are still without power after last week’s ice storm. Some customers who have had service restored may have to shoulder some of the responsibility before getting their power back.

LG&E is responsible for maintaining power lines, poles and transformers, but each customer is responsible their own meter and masthead. The masthead is the portion that transmits electricity from the main power lines to the individual’s house or business.

Company spokesperson Chip Keeling says the home or business owner must get a certified electrician to repair the masthead.

“If we’re hooking up a neighborhood, and we see damage to that masthead, what we’ll do is we’ll take the wire, put it back, and secure it up on the pole, until you have certification where we can come back and hook it up,” says Keeling.

Keeling says many people don’t know they have masthead damage until they notice others around them have electricity but they don’t.

Diagrams outlining what equipment is the customer’s responsibility are available at E.ON US’s website.

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LG&E Works to Deter Copper Thefts

Kentucky’s two largest utility companies are employing micro-encryption to help nab copper thieves. Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities – both owned by E.ON U.S. – are marking their power lines with a type of invisible ink. They’re also training salvage operators to identify the markings so they can catch thieves and return the stolen property.

Company spokesperson Brian Phillips says in addition to loss of property, officials are worried about safety.

“When a thief tampers with our electric property, it compromises the safeguards we have in place to protect our employees, the public and our electric system,” says Phillips. “And if they are successful in stealing copper or stealing some other type of electric equipment, what they leave behind is a very unsafe condition.”

Phillips says the number of copper thefts has grown rapidly over the last few years. So far this year, the company has had 28 thefts.

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Process Underway to Vet Utility Rate Increases

The Kentucky Public Service Commission has begun the process of vetting rate increase proposals from Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities. The official paperwork for the proposals was filed yesterday.

PSC spokesperson Andrew Melnykovych says they’ll have an informal meeting with the involved parties in the coming weeks to set a procedural schedule. Those meetings may determine if they’ll hold public hearings on the proposals.

“There will be an opportunity for public comment under any circumstance, and written comments are always welcome,” says Melnykovych, “but I think the decision that has yet to be made is whether the commission will actually go out into the field and conduct hearings and if so where and how many of those there will be needs to be determined as well.”

The rate proposal would hike the average LG&E electric customer’s bill by about five-dollars a month. The increase would be around eight-dollars a month for natural gas customers.

LG&E representatives have said they need the money to replace outdated natural gas lines in downtown Louisville and pay for a new plant in Trimble County.