LG&E

Dylan Lovan/AP

The Kentucky Coal Association says former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s $500 million pledge to close every coal-fired power plant in the U.S. would “essentially send us back into the Dark Ages.”

Coal consumption in the U.S. is in decline, but Kentucky remains reliant on the fuel for jobs and energy. About 75 percent of the state’s electricity comes from coal power.

Kentucky Coal Association President Tyler White said Friday that coal has provided the Commonwealth with an abundance of cheap energy, which fuels manufacturing and keeps prices low for the state’s poorest residents.

LG&E/KU Customers Stuck Paying For Disbanded Trade Group

May 15, 2019
LG&E

Louisville Gas & Electric and Kentucky Utilities’ latest rate hike puts ratepayers on the hook to pay $269,000 for a secretive utility industry organization that is going out of business.

Power companies including LG&E charge customers to cover part of their dues for the Utility Air Regulatory Group, which argues against tighter clean air rules. Currently, Congress is investigating UARG over ethical conflicts between the group and a top Trump-appointee in the Environmental Protection Agency.

LG&E

With the latest rate hike, Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities customers will help pick up the tab for membership dues at trade groups that lobby against environmental protections.

Whether customers like it or not, LG&E’s natural monopoly guarantees that everyone buying service in their territory will pay into these trade groups, even if those groups lobby against customers’ own interests.

Rates For LG&E/KU Customers Are Going Up This Week

Apr 30, 2019
Erica Peterson

Electric and gas rates for about 1.3 million Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities customers will increase on Wednesday.

Kentucky’s public utility regulators approved the new rates for system-wide improvements. However, customers will also see increases on their bills due to changes in service charges and the expiration of a credit from the Trump Administration’s corporate tax cut last year.

Ryan Van Velzer

On a hilltop overlooking the Trimble County Generating Station, Quang Do and his family ring a large, bronze pagoda bell embellished with images of Buddha. The sound vibrates in your chest, thrumming over the hills into the valley below.

Do’s father built this temple here about 20 years ago. Today, Do shares it with his wife, his 9-year-old son, Alexander and a single monk who lives at the temple full time.

Along the banks of the Ohio River, in the town of Wises Landing, another part of the community gathers inside a Baptist church built at the turn of the 20th Century. Before the sermon begins, they ask for the names of friends and family who might need their prayers.

Google Earth

If the dam failed at the Ghent Power Station’s coal ash pond, it would only take 20 minutes for the toxic coal ash slurry to reach a residential neighborhood in Carroll County. Near the Brown Power Plant in Central Kentucky, homes on nearby Herrington Lake could get five feet of sludge. And at Louisville’s Mill Creek Power Station, the homes across the street from the plant’s ash pond would have a foot of the contaminated water within 30 minutes.

These are the details included in Emergency Action Plans posted online, required to be made available to the public for the first time last week due to new federal regulations.

LG&E

Louisville Gas and Electric has reached a settlement with intervenors in the company’s rate case that’s pending before state regulators.

LG&E had initially asked the Kentucky Public Service Commission to approve a rate increase that would have raised the average residential customer’s bill by about $13 a month. The settlement agreement calls for a smaller increase — about $8.24.

One of the most controversial provisions of the utility’s proposal was the way it proposed to raise those rates: not by changing the rate people pay for electricity and gas, but by changing the basic service charge. The service charge is the flat rate that all customers pay, regardless of usage.

The Kentucky Public Service Commission was scheduled to hold a public hearing on Tuesday on Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities’ proposed rate increase.

Instead, as WFPL reported, the utilities and all of the intervenors in the case reached a settlement, which is now subject to PSC approval.

Here’s a deeper look at the settlement, what LG&E/KU got—and what they didn’t get.

Monthly Service Charge

This was the most contentious part of the original proposal because it would affect every customer, regardless of how much energy they used. LG&E electric and gas customers would have ended up paying $37 a month, up from $24.25. KU customers would have paid $18 a month, rather than the $10.75 they pay now. Under the settlement, there will be no change to the monthly charge, but the rates of electricity and gas will change slightly. The company estimates that the average LG&E bill will increase by about $1.15 a month, while the average KU customer will pay $9 more each month.

After collecting a year's worth of images of what they say are illegal discharges from one of Louisville Gas & Electric's coal ash ponds into the Ohio River, environmental groups say they plan to sue the company. 

The Notice of Intent to sue filed by the Sierra Club and Earthjustice alleges that even though LG&E's permit allows “occasional” discharges directly into the Ohio River, the company has released water from its coal ash ponds into the river at least daily for the past five years.

"It’s obvious that they think they can operate with impunity," said Tom Pearce, a local Sierra Club organizer. "It’s the reason that we can’t eat fish out of our river. It’s the reason that our river is rates as one of the dirtiest rivers in the country. Is it any wonder?"

State leaders say a nearly $1 billion project to update pollution controls at a massive Louisville power plant will be a boost for Kentucky's coal industry. The upgrades at LG&E's Mill Creek Generating Station in southwestern Jefferson County are expected to add about 700 construction jobs. They will also allow the 1,400-megawatt plant to continue to burn coal by meeting stricter federal air regulations that go in force in 2016.