Kentucky Power proposes steps to mitigate rate increase

ASHLAND, Ky. — Kentucky Power has come under criticism from some for proposing a rate increase during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the company is making a couple of proposals in an effort to lessen the burden on customers.

Kentucky Power is asking the Kentucky Public Service Commission for a $70 million rate increase. The new rates would mean a 16 percent increase to the average residential customer’s bill — from $144 a month, to $167.

One proposal is aimed at removing the cost of the rate increase during the pandemic. The company is asking to use $64.7 million of its savings from the 2017 tax overhaul to offset the cost of the rate increase during all of 2021, meaning customers would see no increase in their bills until 2022.

Currently, those tax savings are being passed on to customers over a much longer timeline in the form of monthly credits.

“Currently, customers are receiving that in like a dollar or two every month, and it was going to be paid over 18 years,” said Cindy Wiseman, vice president for external affairs and customer service for Kentucky Power. “So we are asking the commission to let us take a lump-sum of that and use it to offset the first year of rate increase.”

The company is also asking to use another $10.8 million of tax savings to forgive all customer balances that were 30 days or more past due as of May 28.

But while Kentucky Power is willing to take those steps, they must still be approved by the PSC, which is not expected to make a decision on either the rate increase or the mitigation programs until mid-January.

In the meantime, Wiseman says the company wants to help customers who are still struggling from lost income during the pandemic.

“We’re starting to roll back out of our disconnect moratorium that’s been in place since March,” Wiseman said. “Disconnects will resume at the beginning of the year. … Any residential customer who was delinquent, we have put them on a nine-month payment arrangement to help them get caught up. But we’re trying to be as flexible as we can and we’re willing to work with customers, so we just urge them to call our call center … and let us try to help them.”

The Kentucky Power call center can be reached at (800) 572-1113.