Environment Local News

Neighbors Say New Dust Screen at Cane Run Isn’t Working

Neighborhood residents say a dust screen that was installed last week at Louisville Gas and Electric’s Cane Run Power Station isn’t working.

A video taken this weekend by neighborhood residents shows clouds of dust billowing over and around the 50-foot-tall screen the company installed near its sludge processing plant.

Greg Walker lives across the street from the plant, and shot the video.

“It’s ridiculous that a neighborhood has to police a company that size,” he said. “I don’t understand it.”

Walker says it felt like sand was pelting him as the dust moved off of LG&E’s property.

LG&E spokeswoman Chris Whelan says Saturday’s events aren’t indicative of how the screen will operate in typical weather.

Environment Local News

PSC Hears Testimony on Proposed Utility Rate Increase

About 50 people gathered at a middle school in West Louisville tonight to tell the state’s Public Service Commission what they think about proposed utility rate increases.

Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities have both proposed rate increases to help the companies recover the costs for new pollution-reducing technology that will soon be required by the federal government. If the PSC approves the increase, it’ll be staggered over four years. LG&E’s typical ratepayer (who uses about 1,000 kilowatt hours per month) will see their bill increase by about two dollars next year, and eventually by 2016 the bill will be about $16.00 higher.

Most of those testifying to commissioners were against the rate increase. Reverend Milton Seymore of the Justice Resource Center says he thinks LG&E should have to absorb the costs without help from ratepayers.

“I think a company that’s doing business must understand that there are some costs you have to pay,” he said. “We all have losses and we cannot recover those losses.”

But Sarah Lynn Cunningham, who represents the Louisville Climate Action Network, wasn’t sure what she thought about the proposed increase. She spoke to the commissioners about the public health benefits the community would see if the pollution controls are installed.

“If we have fewer heart attacks and fewer asthma attacks and fewer asthma incidents, that’s going to save the general public a fair amount of money,” she said. “So I think we need to look at the out-of-pocket costs in the context of the savings as well.”

Whether or not the PSC grants the rate increase, LG&E will have to comply with federal environmental regulations. The final two public meetings will be Wednesday in Lexington and Thursday in Corbin.

Environment Local News

PSC Sets Dates for Public Comment on Rate Increases

The Kentucky Public Service Commission has scheduled four public meetings next month around the state so commissioners can hear testimony from the public about proposed utility rate increases.

Louisville Gas & Electric and Kentucky Utilities have requested the PSC allow them to raise utility rates to pay for environmental upgrades to their power plants. LG&E estimates total electric bills will rise by about 19 percent by 2016 for their customers, and KU customers will see bills increase by about 12 percent.

PSC spokesman Andrew Melnykovych says each meeting will begin with an informational presentation, and will end with a public comment session.

“At a time when electric utilities in Kentucky are being affected by a number of new environmental regulations, these meetings offer the public an opportunity to learn more about how environmental compliance costs are reflected in rates,” he said.

The public meetings are scheduled for:

Henderson: Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 5:30p.m. CDT

Henderson Fine Arts Center, Henderson Community College

2660 S. Green Street

Louisville: Tuesday, September 6, 2011, 5:30p.m. EDT

Auditorium, Johnson Traditional Middle School

2509 Wilson Avenue

Lexington: Wednesday, September 7, 2011, 5:30p.m. EDT

Auditorium, Bryan Station High School

201 Eastin Road

Corbin: Thursday, September 8, 2011, 5:30p.m. EDT

Auditorium, Lynn Camp High School

100 North Kentucky Highway 830

Environment Local News

LG&E Outlines Potential Rate Increases to Metro Council

Electricity rates will be going up, but no one yet is sure exactly how much. Power company officials testified before a Metro Council committee today about the effect environmental regulations will have on ratepayers.

There are a host of federal air regulations that have been issued this year or are expected soon. Combined with a rule from the Environmental Protection Agency governing the handling of coal ash, compliance will cost Louisville Gas & Electric, and by extension, their ratepayers.

LG&E filed for a 19 percent increase over the next four years with the Kentucky Public Service Commission in June. But this increase just covers environmental upgrades at Mill Creek and Trimble County power plants.

As far as the plant at Cane Run, or Kentucky Utility’s plants at Green River or Tyrone are concerned, they could add more to the cost. LG&E’s John Voyles says the company sent out requests for proposal to weigh its options for replacing those units.

“We’re comparing our build costs to buying power to buying already-built plants and trying to assemble the least cost way to replace that energy,” he said.

Voyles told committee members that LG&E has a double mandate: to generate electricity, and to provide it as cheaply as possible. Councilman Brent Ackerson raised concerns that switching to natural gas may hurt Kentucky’s economy.

“My concern is, when we sit here and we talk today about natural gas and shipping it in from out of state, my concern is when you balance the two mandates, is there a collateral mandate in there that essentially we think about Kentucky’s future?” Ackerson asked.

He was told the decision is ultimately up to the PSC, but very few coal fired power plants have been permitted recently.

Depending on LG&E’s course of action, ratepayers could see their electricity bills increase by an additional five percent.

Environment Local News

LG&E Says Malfunctioning Machine at Cane Run Being Repaired

Louisville Gas & Electric says a piece of machinery that malfunctioned last weekend at their Cane Run Power Station should be up and running next week.

Residents complained after clouds of dust were visible above the plant’s landfill in southwest Louisville. They’ve documented instances of ash leaving the landfill and contaminating their property in the past.

The company took the sludge processing plant, which mixes coal ash with lime to create a cement-like material, out of commission. More dust was visible yesterday evening, but LG&E spokeswoman Chris Whelan says the dust was released in the process of cleaning and repairing the machine.

“We are going to install a fluidization system, but we had to get all the ash that was in there when we shut it off abruptly—we had to get that out of there before we could do the repairs,” she said.

Whelan says the machine should be fixed and functioning normally next week.