Environment

Kentucky’s Public Service Commissioners will be in Louisville tonight to take public comments about a proposed utility rate increase.

Louisville Gas and Electric is asking the PSC to approve the rate increase to help the company recoup the costs associated with several projects, including constructing a new natural gas-fired power plant at the site of the Cane Run coal plant. The new gas plant is expected to be in service in May, and the coal units will be retired.

LG&E’s proposal would raise the monthly service charge customers pay from $10.75 to $18. The actual electricity rate per kilowatt hour would decrease—from 8.076 cents to 7.618 cents. The company estimates that the bill for the average residential customer will increase by about 2.7 percent.

When LG&E originally proposed converting Cane Run to natural gas, the company told the public that it didn’t expect the project to raise customer’s rates (though Kentucky Utilities customers were told to expect a 4 percent hike). PSC spokesman Andrew Melnykovych said when the agency gave LG&E permission to move ahead with the natural gas plant, it did so based on the fact that the commissioners deemed the project the most reliable least-cost option; the company wouldn’t have necessarily had to quantify the effect on ratepayers in that application.

In the past decade, the PSC has approved four rate increases that affect LG&E customers. Those changes have increased the electric bill of the average LG&E customer (using about 1,000 megawatts a month) by $11.22 a month. The average customer’s gas bill has increased $21.56 a month.

The public meeting on LG&E’s proposed rate increase is tonight at 5:30 p.m. in the Durrett Auditorium at Louisville Male High School (4409 Preston Highway). The first hour will be a presentation on the PSC process, and a public comment period will follow.