Beshear recommends $142 Million decrease in LG&E, KU rate proposal

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LG&E, KU, Louisville Gas & Energy, Kentucky Utilities
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Attorney General Andy Beshear announced Thursday that his Office of Rate Intervention is recommending that the Public Service Commission (PSC) hold LG&E and KU to approximately one-third of the increase requested in recently filed rate cases.

The utility companies are asking the PSC for a $210 million increase in annual revenues.

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Beshear’s rate proposal incorporates the testimony of five experts, including an engineer, and asks the PSC to reduce the rate request by $142 million.

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.

“My office clearly understands the need for utility companies to maintain their infrastructure to better serve ratepayers,” Beshear said. “In this instance, we view the requested increase by the utility companies to be excessive and are asking the PSC to take the appropriate action so that any cost passed to consumers isn’t crippling.”

Beshear’s office is also recommending that the fixed customer charge remain the same with no additional increase and eliminate the fixed charge “gas line tracker rider.” The charge as originally proposed was for a one-time, short-term recovery for a specific project. Now the companies want to use the tracker for long-term projects to enable them to collect construction expenses from ratepayers between rate cases.

Beshear is also recommending the PSC reject the proposed smart meter deployment, which will cost customers more than $350 million over the life of the meters.

“After careful review of the filings in this case, we find little support that smart meter deployment will benefit the ratepayers in any way,” Beshear said.

Other recommendations by Beshear’s office include:

-Delaying a smart grid project.
-Requesting the PSC reduce proposed transmission spending in an attempt to keep costs for customers down.
-Recommending a much lower authorized return for shareholders than proposed by the company.

A public hearing on the matter is scheduled for May 2 at the PSC in Frankfort.

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.