Environment Local News

LG&E, KU, Approved to Offer Additional Energy Efficiency Programs

Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities will offer three new and four expanded energy efficiency programs to ratepayers next year.

The programs recently approved by the Public Service Commission include a rebate for new Energy Star appliances, as well as a rebate for customers who recycle their old refrigerators and freezers.

LG&E spokeswoman Liz Pratt says the programs are designed give customers ways to better manage the ways they use energy.

“The programs are part of our way to help customers use energy more wisely,” she said. “These programs also offset the annual customer energy demand growth, which leads to additional generation.”

More efficient uses of energy throughout the state could lead to less energy used, which could reduce the need for new power plants in the future, she says.

Other programs include an expanded residential audit service, where the company provides incentives when customers install recommended energy efficiency measures and an expanded effort to match low-income customers with weatherization services.

The programs are paid for through surcharges on customers’ bills. The average LG&E electric customer will see the surcharge drop by about 38 cents each month, while LG&E gas and KU customers will see the surcharge increase by about 50 cents.

Environment Local News

LG&E, KU Settlement Includes Retrofit Delays, More Money for Energy Assistance

By Jean-Pierre Daniel - Ligne à haute-tension 400.000 volts - Centrale de FessenheimUtility companies, environmental groups, non-profits and the state have reached an agreement in a rate case pending before the Kentucky Public Service Commission.

The settlement was presented to commissioners today in Frankfort. Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities’ original plan included $2.5 billion in environmental upgrades. The new agreement is cheaper—$2.25 billion. That’s because the companies have agreed to not seek upgrades for the E.W. Brown plant in Harrodsburg.

Environment Local News

PSC Issues Recommendations to Address LG&E, KU Customer Service Issues

by Ron Smith, Kentucky Public Radio

The Kentucky Public Service Commission has issued recommendations it hopes will improve satisfaction with Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities’ customer service.

In September, an independent audit found numerous faults with the utilities, ranging from mistaken meter readings to unresponsive call centers. Commission spokesman Andrew Melnykovych (mel-nuh-KO-vich) predicts LG&E and KU customers will notice a difference.

“It’s principally going to benefit those customers who have an occasion to interact with the utility with respect to billing issues and those sorts of things but should be an overall improvement for all customers, yes.”

The recommendations include better staffing of call centers and improved customer service at every management level. The utilities are required to provide the PSC with periodic reports on the implementation of the action plan.

Environment Local News

Settlement Reached in LG&E, KU Rate Hearing

Representative from all sides of a proposed utility rate increase have reached a settlement agreement. Public Service Commissioners will consider the deal tomorrow.

Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities are seeking permission to make $2.5 billion worth of environmental upgrades to power plants, the costs of which would be passed along to ratepayers.

There were a number of parties involved in the case, including the utilities themselves, the state attorney general’s office, environmental groups and others. All of them have agreed to the settlement, which the commissioners will now consider.

Andrew Melnykovych is the spokesman for the PSC. He says settlement means much of the cross-examining of witnesses won’t be necessary.

“What will happen is the utilities will put on at least one, perhaps more witnesses to outline what’s in the settlement agreement and then it’ll be principally the commission’s staff and the commissioners themselves asking the questions about it,” he said.

Melnykovych expects that process to just take one day. The commissioners will decide by mid-December whether to approve the settlement, reject it, or require modifications.

Environment Local News

Consultant Will Testify About Flaws in KU, LG&E Rate Proposal

Hearings begin tomorrow in Frankfort, as the Kentucky Public Service Commission considers a request for environmental upgrades and higher rates from Louisville Gas & Electric and Kentucky Utilities. Commissioners will also hear from a consultant who has found flaws with the request.

The utility companies are proposing to spend $2.5 billion to bring their fleets into compliance with pending federal regulations. If the PSC approves the plan, those costs will be passed along to ratepayers.

Jeremy Fisher is a scientist with Synapse Energy Economics, a Boston-based energy consulting firm. He will testify in the hearing on behalf of the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council, which are intervening in the case.

Environment Local News

Metro Government Fines LG&E for Coal Ash Violations at Cane Run

Louisville Gas and Electric is facing a fine of up to $26,000. The penalty levied by Metro Government is in response to equipment malfunctions that caused clouds of coal ash to leave the company’s Cane Run plant.

The Notice of Violation–sent on Friday–alleges ash from LG&E’s Cane Run power station left the company’s property on several days last summer—on days when the company’s sludge processing plant was malfunctioning.

Residents living near Cane Run say fly ash leaves the company’s landfills and contaminates their homes on a daily basis, but the problem got worse for several days during the equipment failure.

Environment Local News

LG&E Fined Up to $26,000 for Coal Ash Problems at Cane Run

Louisville Metro Government has fined Louisville Gas and Electric for several violations surrounding equipment malfunctions at the company’s Cane Run Power Station.

In the Notice of Violation, the Air Pollution Control District fines the company $26,000, but notes the company could enter in a settlement with the district and undertake remedial action. If LG&E chooses that option, the settlement amount would be $19,500.

Environment Local News

LG&E Dismisses Metro Government Coal Ash Sampling; Releases New Data

Louisville Gas and Electric says the company has found little evidence of coal ash settling on homes near its Cane Run Power Station. The company is dismissing sampling performed by Louisville Metro Government that showed ash was present.

Residents living near the Cane Run power plant in southwest Louisville say dust and coal ash leave the plant and the material is contaminating their homes. Since last summer, LG&E produced results of two different types of tests—and the results were contradictory.

Last month, Metro Government analyzed its own samples. It found fly ash on a home that was washed only three weeks earlier. But now LG&E has released NEW data that shows negligible quantities of ash.

LG&E spokesman Chip Keeling says the company has taken samples off six homes over a three month period.

“The freshly washed surfaces have been checked over the last three months, and it’s been less than 1 percent fly ash in that particulate,” he said.

Keeling added that some emissions are normal—and allowed.

“In any industrial setting, you’re going to have emissions,” he said. “And you’re allowed to have “x” amount, and we’ve been in compliance the entire time with the EPA and with the Pollution…well, with the EPA.”

Under its permit, the company is allowed to emit a certain amount from its smokestacks. But as far as the city is concerned, if dust poses a nuisance to an industry’s neighbors and limits their right to enjoy their property, the city can require the company to take remedial measures.

Terri Phelps of the Air Pollution Control District says the agency stands by its results. The agency will likely issue a notice of violation to LG&E for problems associated with coal ash dust sometime this week or next.

Environment Local News

Metro Goverment Sampling Finds More Ash on Homes Near Cane Run

New samples taken by Louisville Metro Government confirm earlier evidence that coal ash is leaving Louisville Gas and Electric’s Cane Run Power Station and contaminating nearby homes.

Samples analyzed by LG&E months ago showed high concentrations of ash on a nearby home, but the company qualified the results by pointing out that ash may have been building up for several years.

Environment Local News

Louisville Coal Ash Pond Reclassified as ‘High Hazard’

A view of the coal ash pond at LG&E's Cane Run Power Station from the top of the plant.The federal government has reclassified eleven coal ash ponds around the country as “high hazard.” A coal ash pond at Louisville Gas and Electric’s Mill Creek Power Station is one that changed classification.

The Environmental Protection Agency rates a coal ash pond—used on site to store coal combustion byproducts—as ‘high hazard’ if it’s in an area where a breach could potentially result in loss of life.