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LG and E, KU: Ike And Ice Costs Total $134 Million

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

Two major power utilities in Kentucky are establishing separate accounts to recoup damage costs associated with last January’s debilitating ice storm.   

 Fifty-one percent of LG&E’s customers, mostly in Jefferson County, lost power during the ice storm.  Forty-percent of Kentucky Utilities’ customers were impacted, but damage to KU’s system was more severe, since most of the outages were in hard-hit Western Kentucky. 

KU wants to recoup $62 million in damage repair costs.  LG&E wants $45 million. 

 The Public Service Commission is allowing each to establish separate accounts in those amounts, which the companies will try to recover through future rate increases.  But the accounts are no guarantee of recovery.  Both utilities must file rate cases with the PSC and seek approval for the recovery costs. 

Both utilities also established separate accounts to recoup losses suffered last year from the remnants of Hurricane Ike.  Combined, the utilities now have $134 million in deferred storm-related costs.

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AG Announces Fines In Gas Price Complaints

They don’t admit wrongdoing or guilt, but eight gas retailers in Kentucky have agreed to pay the state more than $100,000 in fines for alleged price gouging.

Attorney General Jack Conway says his office received nearly two thousand price gouging
complaints in the wake of Hurricane Ike, which came ashore last September.

“We had emailed digital photos of gas stations and what they were charging. We went and followed up at one particular gas station and the fella said ‘Look, I just put up a really high price to protect my normal customers and keep the lines from forming,’ and he quickly changed it,”
Conway said.

Pilot Travel Centers in Corbin, Middlesboro, Williamsburg, Franklin and Oak Grove agreed to pay a total of $100,000 dollars in fines. Two T-Marts in Wingo and Franklin agreed to total fines of seven-thousand-500 dollars. An eighth station has not yet been identified. The state will use the money for transportation needs.

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Windstorm Leaves Widespread Damage, Outages

Louisville Gas and Electric Company crews continue working to restore power to the more than 200,000 customers left without service following Sunday’s windstorm.

Wind gusts in excess of 70 miles per hour brought down numerous trees and tree
limbs across the region, and hundreds of power lines.

LG and E Vice-President Chris Herman says it will take days to repair all the outages.

“We do want people who have to make those personal decisions about what
to do with a family member, what to do with a business and so on, to understand,
this is going to be an extended outage,” Herman said Sunday evening.

The winds from the remnants of Hurricane Ike also knocked out power to more than 100 Jefferson County Public Schools, prompting officials to cancel classes district-wide Monday.

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Beshear Invokes Price Gouging Law

As Hurricane Ike bears down on the Texas coast and its refineries, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has declared a state of emergency in the Commonwealth, in an effort to prevent
predatory pricing at the gasoline pump.

Beshear announced the action Friday during an appearance in Lexington.

“By doing this under the Consumer Protection Act, it empowers the attorney general to proceed against uncrupulous providers of goods and services who are engaging in price-gouging,” Beshear said.

Attorney General Jack Conway says his office has already received reports of prices exceeding $4.50 per gallon in some locations.

(Thanks to WUKY, Lexington)

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Louisville Won't House Ike Evacuees

Louisville Metro Government officials say if Hurricane Ike forces Gulf Coast residents to flee their homes, none of them will be staying here as was the case with Hurricane Gustav.

Chris Poynter at the mayors office says they’ve told FEMA the city is not prepared to handle another influx of evacuees.

“We just sheltered 1,500 folks and it was very taxing time, both for the Red Cross and for other groups, but we did it very well,” Poynter said. “But what we did tell them is we will allow the evacuees to come into Louisville by flight or whatever, and we will help bus them from Louisville to Lexington, to Owensboro, to Bowling Green, to some of the other cities that have said they would help.”

The Hurricane Gustav evacuees returned home Saturday and Sunday after spending about a week housed in the Kentucky Exposition Center.

Poynter says the city is now bracing for the arrival of thousands of Ryder Cup golf fans this week and next.