Don’t let utilities make it hard for people to save money | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Don’t let utilities make it hard for people to save money

Many electric utilities across Kentucky are seeking to change their rate structures so that customers won’t benefit much from reducing their energy use. These rate cases, which are being considered by the Kentucky Public Service Commission, are part of a national strategy by the utility industry to make it less attractive for customers to make their homes and businesses energy efficient or install renewable energy.

Benham Power Project -- March 2014

The utilities, including LG&E, Kentucky Utilities, Kentucky Power and Bluegrass Energy, are seeking to raise rates by sharply increasing the flat monthly fee that all customers must pay, regardless of their energy use. As result, customers will have less ability to control their energy costs by conserving energy. Instead, customers who do take steps to use less energy will subsidize customers who are heavy users.

Kentuckians need to make our voices heard by the Kentucky Public Service Commission, the state agency charged with making sure that utility rates are fair and reasonable. Let the PSC know that if utilities truly need additional revenue, the PSC should direct them to increase the per-kilowatt-hour charge, while leaving the flat monthly fee low. That would leave customers with options to lower bills by using less electricity.

Below is a review of current proposals before the PSC, and ways you can take action.

Written comments are being accepted by the Public Service Commission. The deadline is different for each case, but is usually the date of the final public hearing. Comments may be mailed to the PSC at P.O. Box 615, Frankfort, KY 40602, faxed to 502-564-3460, e-mailed from the PSC website (www.psc.ky.gov, or submitted in person at the public meetings or PSC office. If you are having trouble using the PSC website, you can email psc.info@ky.gov with the subject "Case Related Question or Comment (Please insert case number here)". Below are some suggested points you can make in your written or verbal comments:

  • Kentucky has the opportunity, right now, to transform our energy systems and economy by embracing low-cost clean energy solutions including energy efficiency and renewable energy. Diversifying our energy sources and becoming more energy efficient is the right approach for our health and climate. It is also in the best interests of Kentucky’s ratepayers.

  • The current proposals disproportionately and inequitably increase bills for the smallest residential customers who take steps to keep their energy use low. This group includes many individuals who have low or fixed incomes and pay a high percentage of their monthly income for home energy costs. Under these proposals, low-energy users would subsidize customers who have larger homes and/or higher energy use.  

  • Encouraging energy efficiency should be a high priority for the Kentucky Public Service Commission and utilities operating in Kentucky. It far less expensive for utilities and their customers to invest in energy efficiency than to build out new generation and transmission infrastructure. Kentucky’s rate structures and policies should encourage, not discourage, private investments in energy efficiency and distributed renewables.

  • Unfortunately, the current rash of utility rate cases before the PSC (including case # _________) would have the opposite effect. These proposals actually discourage energy conservation and distributed renewable energy generation. In fact, experts who examined the LG&E case determined that the new rate structure would actually cause customers to increase their energy consumption by 2% over several years. A similar impact could be expected in similar cases involving Kentucky Utilities, Kentucky Power, and Bluegrass Energy. This is due to the fact that customers would benefit less from reducing their energy consumption under the proposed rates.

  • These rate proposals will also restrict the growth of Kentucky’s clean energy economy, including jobs in the solar and energy efficiency industries, at a time when those sectors are booming in other states. Kentucky’s Public Service Commission should not allow utilities to crowd out private investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy by rigging their rate structures to their own distinct advantage.

Thank you for taking action today and over the next few weeks to make your voices heard by the Kentucky Public Service Commission in these important cases! Feel free to contact Lisa Abbott at lisa@kftc.org with any questions.