Kentucky power bills increasing

KENTUCKY - Customers of rural electric co-ops will immediately notice a difference in the amount due on their monthly bills.

The Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) accepted a settlement that permits East Kentucky Power Cooperative, Inc. to raise the company's wholesale rates to increase its annual revenue by nearly 7 percent, or $59.5 million.

Rowan County customers who get power from EKPC include those of Fleming-Mason Energy, Grayson Rural Electric Corp. and Clark Energy. These customers will pay close to an additional $5.

60 per month. The rate increase took effect April 1.

"We understand that certainly in these times, with the economy in the shape that it's in, nobody likes to see increases in cost," EKPC Spokesman Nick Comer said. "We're doing everything we can to try to keep those costs low for our members."

Comer said the rate increase will actually save energy customers money in the long run. EKPC has been purchasing power from outside sources because of a shortage of generating capacity and unscheduled shutdowns at its generating facilities.

EKPC requested the rate increase to help pay for a new unit at its H.L. Spurlock Station power plant in Maysville.

"This unit is important to East Kentucky Power in meeting the demand for power in Kentucky," Comer said. "Members served by East Kentucky Power use double the national rate of energy. We've been looking at all our options in meeting that demand and managing that demand as well."

Comer said the 278 megawatt unit is one of America's cleanest coal-generating units online. The unit uses a technology called the Circulating Fluidized Bed process. CFB feeds limestone boilers, which results in low emission levels.

The new unit also is capable of burning renewable fuels. EKPC is working on a four-year study with the University of Kentucky to determine if switchgrass would be a good alternative source. Switchgrass is native to Kentucky.

EKPC asked the PSC for $15 million more in additional revenue on Oct. 31, 2008. The company negotiated with the Office of the Attorney General and the Kentucky Industrial Utility Customers and applied for the rate increase on Oct. 31, 2008. EKPC submitted the settlement to the PSC for review on March 13. A public hearing on the proposed settlement was held March 27.

Comer said he was not present but he heard that not many people from the public attended the public hearing.

EKPC provides electricity to and is owned by 16 not-for-profit distribution cooperatives, serving about 500,000 customers in 89 Kentucky counties.


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