By Catrina Vargo
Louisa, KY — AEP held a meeting Wednesday, January 28, at the Lawrence County Community Center in Louisa. Kentucky Power President, Greg Pauley and External Affairs Manager, Brad Hall, spoke to the crowd about a proposed rate adjustment for KY Power, and their economic development plan for 2015.
Brad Hall welcomed everyone in attendance and after opening remarks, introduced President, Greg Pauley. Pauley first spoke about the proposed rate increase by Kentucky Power. Pauley said the company needs more money coming into eastern Kentucky for Economic Development. The suggested rate adjustment is 15 cents added onto customer’s electric bills, with KY Power matching that amount. “In one month, the increase would generate $600,000 which would flow back into economic development activities” he explained.
Pauley said he didn’t know if the Public Service Commission (PSC), would approve it or not, but said “We believe in investing in yourself.” A question from the audience was “How will the money be appropriated?” Pauley said the company would work with the commission to decide.
“We understand any increase is difficult for our customers. That’s why when we go before the Kentucky PSC, for a rate adjustment, we do so after a thorough review of the most economical way to serve our customers today and well into the future” he said.
The increase is also part of a cost conscious plan to meet increasing EPA demands, and will help pay for expanded tree trimming to strengthen service reliability and cover the cost of doing business.
Pauley reminded people that KY Power rates are still lower than in other parts of the country. “At one time, we were the third lowest in the state.”
“I know how we are struggling in eastern Kentucky. Coal has actually been declining for the past ten years. My father was a coal miner and I understand the industry.”
The rate adjustment request completes the recovery of KY Power’s remaining commitment to purchase half of the coal fired Mitchell power plant in Moundsville, WV. “We wanted to scrub the Big Sandy plant but 30% was too much” Pauley said,
explaining that acquiring half of the Mitchell plant with less rate increase was the best decision. He said 13-15% was better than 30%.
Pauley also said the employees that were laid off at thenBig Sandy plant all have jobs. “We took care of them” he said. Pauley also introduced Allison Barker, the new Corporate Communications Manager for KY Power. Barker, who previously worked for Appalachian Power, and said she was pleased to be serving in this new position.
External Affairs Manager, Brad Hall, explained the second part of the meeting, AEP’s 2015 Kentucky Economic Advancement Program (KEAP), now in its second year. The plan, which awards $200,000 in grant money over a five year period, is an effort to assist communities within KY Power’s service area in economic development projects that promote the creation and retention of manufacturing and/or industrial investment and jobs.
“We’ve done a lot in the last two and a half years” Hall said. “Overall, we have invested $450,000 in eastern Kentucky.” Lawrence County was one of the project winners last year, with a sheet metal company that will create approximately 15-20 jobs when completed.
“We saw a lot of innovative ideas last year” said Hall. To be eligible, applicants must apply through a non-profit entity such as a chamber of commerce, or a local or regional development organization. “We are looking for projects that provide the maximum local benefits from the grant funds.” Hall went on to say that by continuing to work together, we can change the future of eastern Kentucky.