Kentucky (WEHT) - Turning on the lights will cost a lot more for many people in Kentucky. A ruling by the Kentucky Public Service Commission will result in higher energy rates for several counties in the Commonwealth. This rate hike is a result of another public service commission ruling to allow the Century Aluminum smelter in Sebree, Kentucky out of its contract with Big Rivers. Big Rivers says since it is losing that revenue, everybody's rates had to go up.
"It was a significant hit for us," says Big Rivers Director of Communications, Marty Littrel. "Almost 65% of our financials."
The latest rate increase will mean an eventual $15 monthly increase for Big Rivers customers.
"No one has been impacted by the rate increase yet nor will they be for several months," added Littrel. "That's one of the other details we're looking to see how long will the reserve funds last based on today's announcement".
The Kentucky Public service commission decided to allow Big Rivers to raise rates, but it won't be as high as the energy corporation requested. The company asked to raise an additional $70 million a year to offset the loss of the Sebree smelter, but the ruling will only allow the company to receive an additional $36 million. This increase comes just months after the P.S.C. granted Big Rivers a similar rate hike to make up for the loss of the Century Aluminum plant in Hawesville, Kentucky.
"When we lost the two aluminum smelters; they were about $260 million a year in revenue" Littrel stated.
The increase probably will not set well with customers who have not been shy with their opinions during public hearings on the rate hikes.
"I'm on a fixed income. By golly! And it makes at difference!" says one resident.
All three cooperatives of Big Rivers will be affected by the change. That includes the Kenergy Corporation that serves over 55,000 people in 14 Kentucky counties.
"We're very concerned with what our members are having to pay," says Kenergy C.E.O, Greg Starheim.
Customers can expect to see the increase on their bills in about a year.
Part of the ruling also requires an audit of Big Rivers books to help determine how the utility can become more efficient. Big Rivers says it welcomes that audit. The energy corporation is also looking for new customers to help ease any rate hikes.
Report by Fadia Patterson
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