Beshear Calls for Duke Energy Rate Reduction Ahead of Public Hearing in Florence
The Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) will hold a public meeting to provide information and receive public comments on an increase to electric rates proposed by Duke Energy of Kentucky.
The meeting will be held on Thursday, February 8, 5:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Boone County High School (7056 Burlington Pike, Florence).
The public comment period will be preceded by a presentation by PSC staff on the regulatory processes governing the case and an overview of the Duke Kentucky application.
“This meeting is an opportunity for affected ratepayers to make their views known directly to the commissioners who must decide this case,” PSC Chairman Michael Schmitt said. “The PSC encourages ratepayers to attend the information session to gain a more complete understanding of how Kentucky law requires the PSC to evaluate rate increase applications and arrive at a decision in matters such as this.”
The presentation by PSC staff and a question-and-answer period will last an hour. Public comments will follow at about 6:30 p.m.
Duke Kentucky is seeking to increase its annual base revenue by approximately $48.6 million, or about 15.7 percent. The higher base rates would, according to Duke Kentucky estimates, increase a typical residential monthly electric bill by $15.17, or about 17.1 percent.
Attorney General Andy Beshear said he believes not only should the increase be denied, but also that current rates should be reduced by the additional $16 million.
“As Kentuckians have experienced some of the coldest temperatures recently, it’s even more evident that our families simply cannot pay any more,” Beshear said. “Duke Energy is a sophisticated company that can maintain its infrastructure while still charging a lower rate.”
Beshear’s office recently filed expert testimony in support of the reduction.
This amount is $64.66 million less than the $48.6 million increase the company is proposing.
Beshear’s Office of Rate Intervention serves as a watchdog for consumers in matters relating to health insurance, natural gas, water, sewer, electric and telephone rates. Under Kentucky law, the office is responsible for representing the interests of Kentucky consumers before governmental ratemaking agencies, concentrating on utility cases before PSC.
According to Duke Kentucky, reasons for the increase include an inadequate rate of return on investment, recovery of costs related to the acquisition of the entirety of the East Bend power plant near Rabbit Hash in Boone County, recovery of storm restoration costs from Hurricane Ike in 2008, and costs related to the deployment of an advanced metering system.
Duke Kentucky’s last electric rate increase took effect in January 2007.
The application also includes a request for approval of Duke Kentucky’s environmental compliance plan and imposition of a surcharge through which the utility recovers the cost of compliance, as permitted under Kentucky law.
Duke Kentucky is not proposing to adjust its rates for natural gas service.
Duke Kentucky has about 140,000 electric customers in Boone, Campbell, Grant, Kenton and Pendleton counties.
In addition to the public meeting, the PSC will conduct a formal evidentiary hearing in the case, beginning at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, March 6. The hearing, which is expected to last several days, will be held at the PSC offices at 211 Sower Boulevard in Frankfort. It will be open to the public and may be viewed live on the PSC website, psc.ky.gov
Written comments will be accepted through the conclusion of the evidentiary hearing. They 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 or submitted in person at the public meeting or at the PSC offices.
Duke Kentucky’s application and other records in the case are available on the PSC website, psc.ky.gov. The case number is 2017-00321.