FRANKFORT — Members of the bipartisan Kentucky Mountain Caucus held a press conference Thursday afternoon to express their opposition to the potential sale of Kentucky Power to Liberty Utilities Co.
See in what state Senator Johnnie Turner ponder the issue on page 4 of the print edition or click https://www.harlanenterprise.net/2022/03/27/news-from-frankfort-opposes-sale-of-kentucky-power-to-liberty -utilities -co/
Liberty is a subsidiary of Canadian energy giant Algonquin Power & Utilities, with a business plan that emphasizes renewable energy, leading many to fear that higher monthly bills for consumers could to follow. According to the US Energy Information Administration, Kentucky, a state rich in natural resources, ranks 30th in the nation in terms of the cost of electricity prices for residents, while California, a state with some of the highest renewable energy penetration rates in the country, has the 4th highest rank. cost of electricity for residents.
With potential Public Service Commission (PSC) approval, Liberty will become the region’s sole electric utility provider, essentially buying a monopoly over 165,000 residents with no options in the market.
Mountain Caucus members are the voice of one of the most economically vulnerable regions in the United States. A region already facing high rates of unemployment and poverty. These lawmakers say they fear the sale could lead to even higher energy bills for residents.
Residents of Eastern Kentucky are already paying more than ever to power their businesses and keep the lights I. Their homes lit; a scenario that may leave many people on fixed incomes choosing to pay the electricity bill or meet other basic needs.
“As co-chairman of the Mountain Caucus and a senator representing the 30th District, I have one job and one job only: to protect the people of Eastern Kentucky,” said Sen. Brandon Smith (R-Hazard). “At a time when our people are receiving historically high energy bills, something has to be done about it. If I have to stand out here 100 days in a row, I will.
Smith is Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy.
The Mountain Caucus released a letter (attached) to the PSC urging it to consider how critical Kentucky’s coal and fossil fuel-rich industry is to the Commonwealth and how Eastern Kentucky needs to fit in in the business model of energy suppliers.
“This letter to the PSC is not against a power company, it shows how important power is to our region,” Smith said. “A company showing up with a strong push on renewable energy got me thinking. How do we put so many new megawatts of renewable energy into the region without displacing coal, oil and gas, which are stable energy sources? and proven? We don’t want this sale to further exacerbate the difficulties our region is facing.”
Sen. Phillip Wheeler (R-Pikeville) read a statement on behalf of Attorney General Daniel Cameron during the press conference.
“Like all Kentuckians, the people and businesses of Eastern Kentucky deserve reliable, reasonably priced electricity,” Cameron’s statement read. “I think the proposed sale is unlikely to meet those needs, especially as the buyers have a stated mission to ‘green the fleet’, replacing existing coal and natural gas generation with renewables.”
“I am aware of the buyer’s promise to reduce prices in the short term. I appreciate the willingness to do so, however, concern over long-term rate hikes continues to be a sticking point. My team has raised these concerns at the PSC and in meetings with Liberty Utilities,” Cameron concluded.