Attorney General Cameron’s office fails to stand up for low-income customers, peddles utility talking points, in Kentucky Power rate case
Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s office has failed to protect the interests of residential customers of monopoly utility Kentucky Power during an ongoing utility rate case. Right on the heels failing to deliver justice for Breonna Taylor, Cameron has once again failed Kentuckians.
For the third time since 2015, Kentucky Power, which provides electricity to 165,000 customers in eastern Kentucky, has requested a significant hike in its rates in a case before the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC). The Attorney General’s office is tasked to “be a watchdog for customers” and to legally intervene in utility rate cases like this, on behalf of everyday Kentuckians, including low- and moderate-income customers.
However, during this rate case, Cameron has yet to live up to his mandate. His office’s recent testimony reinforces monopoly utility interests on rooftop solar and does barely anything to advocate for low-income customers.
Kentucky Power’s rate proposal, which must be approved by the PSC, includes a sizable increase to the cost for eastern Kentucky residents. Kentucky Power’s proposed 25 percent increase in fixed electricity charges and 25 percent increase in the per KWh rates would prompt the average residential monthly bill to go up $23.16. The company also proposes a new solar policy that would discourage new rooftop solar customers and effectively cripple the growing number of solar jobs in eastern Kentucky, while making it harder for residential customers to control their energy costs through rooftop solar.
In previous rate cases, it has always been customary for the Attorney General’s office to offer important testimony opposing residential rate increases, particularly increases to the fixed charges on customers’ bills that most significantly hurt low- and fixed-income customers. The recent testimony filed jointly by the Office of the Attorney General of the Commonwealth and Kentucky’s largest industrial utility customers, however, fails to speak out directly against Kentucky Power’s significant proposed rate increases in any meaningful way–at a time when so many Kentuckians are already struggling to make end’s meet due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The testimony filed by the AG’s office also agreed with the company’s proposal to gut rooftop solar, and bought entirely the utility’s unfounded talking point that rooftop solar customers shift costs onto non-solar customers. (It’s important to note that KY Power has never provided any evidence for this claim, despite multiple requests from solar advocates.) That testimony on net metering is directly counter to the interests of ordinary customers – last year’s PSC case on Net Metering saw hundreds of public comments overwhelmingly in favor of keeping the 1:1 net metering tariff intact.
American Electric Power, the parent of the for-profit Kentucky Power utility, was a donor to Cameron’s 2019 campaign. In fact, the energy and fossil fuel sector contributed at least $68,950 to his campaign.
While the AG’s office’s testimony did recommend a lower profit margin for the utility, it has to date done far too little to oppose Kentucky Power’s crippling rate increase. And in swallowing the company’s net metering talking points hook line and sinker, Cameron’s office is essentially backing Kentucky Power’s
attempt to limit Kentuckians’ ability to choose energy independence, and to devastate Kentucky’s burgeoning homegrown solar industry.
“We rely on the Attorney General and his office of Rate Intervention to protect the interests of all Kentuckians. After years of outrage from the public around proposed changes to Net Metering and hundreds of public comments issued in favor of maintaining our access to rooftop solar in last year’s Public Service Commission Administrative hearing on this issue the AG supporting the monopoly utility’s proposal is a huge blow to our confidence in their ability to protect us and the growing the solar industry in the state.” said Cara Cooper with the KY Solar Advocacy Network. “We expect more and better from our Attorney General”.
Public comments against Kentucky Power’s proposed rate increase can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mailed to Public Service Commission, 211 Sower Boulevard, Post Office Box 615, Frankfort, Kentucky, 40602; citing case number 2020-00174.
KY Solar Advocacy Network