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PSC limits utility rate increase, protects rooftop solar – for now

Posted by: KFTC Staff on January 14, 2021

Last summer and fall, KFTC members and our allies fought back hard when Kentucky Power – a monopoly utility serving more than 100,000 households in eastern Kentucky – proposed to sharply raise rates in the middle of a pandemic and to restructure its rates in complex ways that were deeply harmful to ratepayers and the future of clean and efficient energy in Kentucky. 

Yesterday, the Kentucky Public Service Commission agreed with us on many important issues. The PSC’s final order doesn’t deliver everything we wanted, but it’s very good news for struggling households and businesses and for the future of rooftop solar in Kentucky. 

Here’s what your efforts helped to win:

  • The PSC reduced the total increase sought by Kentucky Power by nearly 26 percent, from $70 million to $52 million. 

  • The PSC denied the company’s plan to spend tens of millions of dollars on new, advanced meters and their proposal to recover those costs, sparing customers from additional charges to pay for those upgrades.

  • The PSC rejected Kentucky Power’s plan to charge lower rates to their highest energy users. KFTC and our allies had pointed out that this approach, called a “declining block rate,” discourages investments in energy efficiency and punishes households who attempt to manage their energy bills by conserving energy. 

  • The PSC also deferred – for now – the utility’s claim that rooftop solar customers should get only a very low credit on their bills for the energy their renewable energy systems provide to the grid. If the PSC had accepted Kentucky Power’s proposal for crediting solar net-metering customers, it could have set a precedent for all other utilities in Kentucky. Instead, the Commission said it will rely on the advice of a consultant and require more data before determining a fair value for solar net-metering customers.

Unfortunately, the Commission approved the company’s request to increase the monthly fixed charge that all residential customers pay, regardless of how much energy they use. KFTC members and allies had opposed this proposal, arguing that bill increases should be reflected in the per-kilowatt-hour energy charge, not the flat base fee. A higher base fee means the utility makes money no matter how little energy customers use, which discourages people from investing in efficiency and makes it harder for customers to manage their bills by conserving energy.  

The PSC’s ruling about Kentucky Power’s treatment of rooftop solar is also an important but partial victory which still leaves a lot of uncertainty about the future of solar net-metering for Kentucky Power customers. The PSC gave Kentucky Power the option to implement their extremely low net-metering credit, with the risk that they might need to refund solar customers if the PSC requires a higher credit for net-metered solar energy in the future. Kentucky Power has two weeks to decide if it will do so. The PSC expects to issue a final ruling on net-metering by May 14, 2021.

To fight this rate proposal, KFTC joined with Mountain Association (formerly MACED) and the Kentucky Solar Energy Society to intervene in the rate case before the Public Service Commission. Together our groups were represented by attorney Tom FitzGerald of Kentucky Resources Council. Our allies at Mountain Association and Kentucky Solar Energy Society provided expert testimony in the case before the Public Service Commission, and together we hired an additional expert witness who also provided written and oral testimony during a hearing which lasted six full days.

KFTC also activated Kentuckians to make their voices heard in this case, and we collaborated with a broad set of affordable housing and solar energy advocates in the region and across the state. Using peer-to-peer texting, phone banking, social media ads, a statewide webinar, and direct mail, we:

  • Informed more than ten thousand households affected by this rate case and supported people to take action. 

  • Mobilized nearly 250 people who used our website to submit written comments to the PSC.

  • Turned out dozens of people to testify during three virtual public hearings. 

Congratulations and thank you to everyone who helped secure this positive outcome. 

Next steps

KFTC and our allies have now turned our attention to opposing a similar rate increase being brought by Kentucky’s two largest utilities, Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities. In early January KFTC, Metropolitan Housing Coalition, Mountain Association, and Kentucky Solar Energy Society were accepted by the PSC as co-interveners in that case. We are again represented by Tom FitzGerald and the Kentucky Resources Council. 

It is crucial for KFTC members to remain attentive to the Public Service Commission, whose actions impact economic, energy, and climate justice. Stay tuned for more information from KFTC about the LG&E / KU rate case and ways to make your voice heard.

 

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Your eyes do not deceive you

Posted by: KfTC on January 7, 2021

“Your eyes do not deceive you.”

Justice for Breonna Taylor: Amplifying and learning from the Louisville uprising

Posted by: KfTC staff and members on January 4, 2021

On March 13, 2020 Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) murdered Breonna Taylor – a 26-year-old Black woman, award-winning EMT and beloved community member – while she was resting in

Northern Kentucky (virtual) Sustainability Tour

Northern Kentucky office intern Molly Spicer
Posted by: Molly Spicer on December 21, 2020

On Saturday December 5, Sydney Gregory and myself hosted a virtual sustainability tour on ways to stay sustainable in a Coronavirus time.

Encouragement, communication and education move us forward in the fight for voting rights

Posted by: KFTC Staff on December 1, 2020

2020 launched the Kentucky Democracy Project, a new campaign to register, educate and mobilize Kentucky voters to participate in the 2020 election and beyond. As Kentuckians, we can work together to build a healthy democracy where everyone has a voice and a vote. Our focus is on communities often left out of the political decision-making process – lower income communities, people of color, and young people – particularly 170,000 Kentuckians with felonies in their past who got back their right to vote.

This November KFTC spoke with three of those 170,000 to discuss what voting means to them and what it's going to take to restore and respect the voting rights of all Kentuckians. Links to the full audio interviews are listed at the bottom. 

Aubrey Clemons Aubrey Clemons has always valued voting. But Clemons lost his right to vote after a felony conviction in 2006. He got his right to vote back through Gov. Andy Beshear's executive order. He lives in the Smoketown community of Louisville and is a KFTC member.

Q: What is your history with voting and what does voting mean to you?

Aubrey Clemons: Voting on a personal level is really special to me because as a young man, when I was 18 I never played into politics or policies. My up-comings and my community, the last thing we thought is that our voice mattered. It was typical to hear a brother of 18, 19, 20 years old say, I’m not voting, it doesn’t mean anything. 

I didn’t start hearing the conversation about voting until maybe 2004? The only reason why I voted is because my son’s mother was really big on voting. She made it a date. She’d get all dressed up and took me/us to the polls. 

Unfortunately in 2006 I got into some mess in Hart County, Kentucky. I never knew that boot-legging DVDs and CDs to be sold was bad, but I lost my right to vote because of it and became a felon. 

Voting was a part of our tradition as a couple, that we could have started but never got the chance to. Right after I was able to vote, right after I learned the power of my voice, I lost my right to vote. So that tradition got stomped. Even when I was in that place, serving my time in the state of Kentucky, she would always call me and let me know that she voted, that it was voting time. She had my kids out there excited to vote for Obama, twice! It’s really a big deal to me.

KFTC is "All In" for building regional progressive power and standing with Georgians

GAining Ground graphic with black background
Posted by: Meta Mendel-Reyes on November 30, 2020

KFTC has been in conversation with national and regional allies, and particularly with our allies in Georgia, about ways that we can pitch in to build power in the South through our continued work to unseat Mitch McConnell – if not as Kentucky’s senator, at least from holding the power of the US Senate Majority Leader.

KFTC’s Immediate-Past Chair, Meta Mendel-Reyes, has helped lead this work, and here is her request to fellow members. 

Art Nurtures Justice auction a success for Rolling Bluegrass

Posted by: Rosanne Fitts Klarer and Amelia Cloud on November 25, 2020

Grassroots fundraising in a pandemic is challenging at best. We thought it wouldn’t work. Nevertheless we persisted because it’s how we stay tight as a chapter. Together we planned an online fundraiser.

Art Nurtures Justice began with a 90-minute Facebook Live event on November 14 and continued with an online auction through November 20.

As we planned this event, we communicated often, and we encouraged each other. We laughed a lot and brainstormed ideas about how to make it work. What really convinced us to continue with this project was when we started asking artists to donate art. They were almost all glad to help. Friends like Casey Papendieck of Turtle Farm Pottery in Wolfe County even met us in Lexington to hand off their donation.

What it will take to win: grassroots organizing, deep connections

Posted by: kfTC Staff on November 24, 2020

When KFTC members gathered on Zoom November 21 to elect officers and reflect on this year, they considered what it will take to achieve the Kentucky we envision.

Executive Committee elected at annual business meeting

Posted by: KfTC Staff on November 21, 2020

KFTC members re-elected most of the leaders currently serving on KFTC’s Executive Committee.

Amplifying and learning from the Louisville uprising

Posted by: KfTC Staff on November 18, 2020

On March 13, Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) murdered Breonna Taylor – a 26-year-old Black woman, award-winning EMT and beloved community member – while she was resting in her own home. 

If you get a letter or email from the State Board of Elections, open it

Posted by: KFTC Staff on November 4, 2020

If you get a letter from the State Board of Elections, open it to make sure your vote counted

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