Kentuckians deserve affordable, clean energy solutions that help us keep our electric bills manageable and allow us all to breathe easier. But a new rate plan proposed by Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities will make our communities dirtier and less livable, while making it even harder for many people to afford our electric bills. That’s the wrong direction for Kentucky.
The companies propose to double the flat monthly service charge customers pay, no matter how much energy they use. That type of rate plan discourages customers from taking steps to weatherize their homes, upgrade appliances, or install rooftop solar. Why would customers invest in energy-saving strategies if it doesn’t help them save money on their utility bill? The new rate plans are especially harmful to people with low and fixed incomes, since it makes it even harder for them to manage their bills by keeping their energy use low.
If you are a customer of Louisville Gas and Electric or Kentucky Utilities, now is the time to send written comments to the Kentucky Public Service Commission.
The most effective public comments are hand-written and personal. Messages can also be submitted by email. All comments should be submitted before the end of April 2017.
- Mail comments to Kentucky Public Service Commission, Public Information Officer, P.O. Box 615, Frankfort, KY 40602.
- Or email comments to Public Information Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Or follow these links to submit your comments online. For KU customers. For LG&E customers.
You must include the rate case in the subject line of your email and early in your letter, along with your full name and address.
- For LG&E customers, the rate case is Case #2016-00371.
- For KU customers, the rate case is Case #2016-00370.
“I am a customer of LG&E (or KU). I am writing to oppose the rate structures asked for in Case No 2016-00371 (LG&E) and 2016-00370 (KU).
Kentuckians deserve affordable, clean energy solutions that help us keep our electric bills manageable and allow us all to breathe easier. But the new rate structures proposed by LG&E and KU would take us in the wrong direction.
LG&E and KU want to charge us more – and they want to do it by increasing the flat monthly fee we all pay no matter how much energy we use. That approach hurts people with low and moderate incomes. And makes it hard for all customers to manage our bills by conserving energy or investing in renewable energy.
I am asking the Public Service Commission to reject the proposed rate structures. You must insist that any investments in new infrastructure needed by LG&E and KU are paid for in a way that creates a cleaner, healthier city and protects low-income residents. The Public Service Commission must make sure our utility rates are fair and necessary. The proposal in front of you is neither and should not be accepted.”
Here’s a bit more information about the LG&E/KU rate proposals:
If you look closely at your electric or gas bill, you’ll notice several different types of charges. There’s a flat monthly fee that you pay no matter how much energy you use. And then there’s a separate rate you pay for the electricity or natural gas you consume. LG&E and KU are proposing to significantly increase the flat monthly service fee, while slightly lowering the rate they charge for energy used.
For customers in Louisville, for example, the monthly charge for electric service will jump from $10.75 to $22, and the monthly charge for natural gas service will climb from $13.50 to $24.00. That means most LG&E’s customers will owe a minimum of $46 a month, even if they use no gas or electricity whatsoever. For customers served by Kentucky Utilities, the base rate for electric service would also climb from $10.75 to $22 per month.
If that proposal sounds familiar, it’s because KFTC and many other groups have opposed it before. But the idea keeps coming back, like a bad dream. In fact, a 2016 report for the Consumers Union documented similar proposals in 32 states in 2014 and 2015. By shifting more costs to the flat service fee, many utilities hope to protect themselves from risk at the expense of ratepayers.
These two Kentucky-based utilities are already benefiting their shareholders handsomely. The companies are subsidiaries of PPL Corporation (formerly Pennsylvania Power and Light), headquartered in Allentown, Pennsylvania. In its 2015 annual report, PPL boasted that its shareholder return of more than 6% was “second to none” among large utilities. The company also increased its dividend to shareholders for the 13th time in the past 14 years.
LG&E and KU are regulated monopolies. This means they alone can legally provide electric (and in some cases natural gas) services within their defined service territories. In return for that monopoly status, they must get approval from the Kentucky Public Service Commission (KPSC) for the investments they make and the rates they charge. (It’s worth noting that state lawmakers have repeatedly cut the PSC’s budget in recent years, and Governor Bevin just ordered the elimination of many staff positions, including the Director of Consumer Services. As a result, the agency’s ability to protect the public interest has been weakened.)
LG&E and KU say they need to raise rates at this time in order to upgrade all electric and natural gas meters on their systems to advanced digital meters. They say this investment is necessary to provide customers with more information about their energy use and to reduce personnel costs and service time, since advanced meters can be read and turned on and off remotely.
Kentuckians For The Commonwealth believes the Public Service Commission should closely examine whether or not those new expenses are justified and necessary. But even setting that question aside, we strongly oppose the specific proposals to shift more of each customer’s bill to the flat service fee. Instead, we believe it is in the public interest to establish fair rate structures that support greater use of energy efficiency, energy conservation, and renewable energy in our communities.
Thank you for taking action today so all of us can keep our bills manageable and breathe easy!