Sen. Smith and Rep. Couch send letter to PSC opposing Kentucky Power rate increase

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FRANKFORT – While last month Kentucky Power filed an application with the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) seeking a regulatory review of base rates, with a proposed rate increase, on Friday, July 7, State Senator Brandon Smith (District 30) and State Representative Tim Couch (District 90) submitted the following letter to the PSC regarding the proposed rate hike:

In June, Kentucky Power filed yet another rate case increase with the Kentucky Public Service Commission that will affect 20 counties in Eastern Kentucky. In recent years, our communities have been devastated by the downturn in the coal industry and the resulting loss of jobs – all of which continue to wreak havoc on our economy and families. 

In 2017, as a result of pro-jobs and pro-investment policies passed in Frankfort, many Eastern Kentucky towns are experiencing an uptick of sorts. We have had major economic development announcements, which will result in thousands of new jobs. Several coal mines have fired back up, and some miners are finally getting back to work. 

The burden placed on our elderly, low-income, and fixed-income residents from the last rate hike alone has inflicted enough damage, and a further increase would be one more thing to spike the further migration of our people away from Eastern Kentucky. 

Rate payers in Eastern Kentucky are managing their budgets on a monthly basis, in historically tough times. Hard working citizens do the same, and a rate hike on these people who have suffered enough simply is unacceptable.

We have one suggestion for Kentucky Power, and it’s to do just like their rate payers: live within your means, and manage what you have without placing what would be an absolutely back-breaking hike on our hard working residents. Needless to say, now is not the time for another setback. 

As representatives in Frankfort for residents of Eastern Kentucky, we respectfully ask that you continue to join us in our aggressive, innovative approach to economic development and revitalization in Eastern Kentucky, and not in what would be a regressive move.

In response to the letter, Kentucky Power President Matthew Satterwhite submitted the following to  the Independent:

I was surprised by the assertion that Kentucky Power is not acting as a partner in the economic development of eastern Kentucky. In fact, Kentucky Power is leading the way in eastern Kentucky and has been a key player in many major economic development announcements made in 2017, including Braidy Industries announcing its plans to build a $1.3 billion aluminum rolling mill in Greenup County. Since 2012, Kentucky Power has invested $2.5 million in economic development in eastern Kentucky. In the Salyersville area alone, two projects have benefited from our economic development grants: Logan Corp. and Thoroughbred Aviation. Logan, a truck bed manufacturing facility, retained 35 jobs at an existing business in Martin County, moved those jobs to downtown Salyersville along with 80 new jobs into the vacated Joy Global manufacturing facility. We invested $100,000 in this project through our Kentucky Power Economic Growth Grant program. Thoroughbred is a helicopter and airplane maintenance and repair operation that is bringing 15 high-paying jobs to the Big Sandy Regional Airport adjacent to the East Kentucky Business Park. Magoffin County is a part owner of the industrial park.

Economic development like this is at the core of our vision at Kentucky Power for a strong eastern Kentucky. Our region is a major player for manufacturing and I am proud that Kentucky Power is using its national and international affiliations to spread this message. There should be no doubt as to our commitment and leadership in economic development. Taking an aggressive, innovative approach to economic development and revitalization of eastern Kentucky is the only avenue to success. The region is primed for growth and I will ensure Kentucky Power continues to lead the charge to attract investment and create jobs in eastern Kentucky. We should be working together to provide a brighter future for everyone.

As far as the regulatory rate review is concerned, I appreciate that concerns are being directed to the Kentucky Public Service Commission. The Commission is the appropriate forum to address issues on rates and to ensure reasonable rates are set. Reasonable rates also include rates that allow utilities such as Kentucky Power to provide safe and reliable service to our customers. The Commission is charged with overseeing that balance. Kentucky Power’s financials are an open book and are now before the Commission as part of this case. I am confident this regulatory review will show the hard work being done to manage the business and the reasonableness of the rates.

If accepted, the proposed new rates will go in effect in January 2018.