LG&E, KU sale still on the table

Chris Whelan
Chris Whelan
James Miller
James Miller

Frankfort, KY - By Matt McCutcheon - e-mail | bio

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) – A ruling on the future of some Kentucky utilities will likely be decided by the end of the month. E. On US/AG has owned and operated LG&E and KU for the past several years, but early in 2010, a sale of the E. On's US assets to Pennsylvania-based PPL picked up steam.

A utility sale requires a system of checks and balances to become official. This latest round has the deal parked in front of the Kentucky Public Service Commission. They are hearing a revised sale agreement, after about a dozen different companies and organizations stepped in and aired their concerns about the sale.

That group helped convince PPL to change part of its conditions, including agreeing to no customer rate hikes until at least January 2013, unless an emergency – like a hurricane – takes place and requires more investments by the company.  The previously announced August 2010 rate hike that was approved will not be affected by this.

PPL also agreed to a profit sharing plan with customers for the first five years of the deal, but only if earnings exceed a 10.75% threshold. The company also agreed to extend its charitable giving and payment assistance programs for 15 years.

As previously announced, there will be no changes Louisville headquarters, but like a coupon, there are terms, conditions and expiration dates.

"There would be no job loss as a result of this merger.  The headquarters will stay in Louisville and the management team will remain in place," said Chris Whelan, a LG&E/KU spokesperson.

But the main point is that's only agreed to until 2025. Then the future of the downtown headquarters, 3,000 jobs, and even the historic LG&E/KU names become a question.

On the stand in front of the commission Wednesday morning, James Miller, PPL's CEO said, "I think it's one thing to follow words; it's another thing to follow the spirit of the commitment."

By the end of September, the Public Service Commission will either agree or disagree to the terms, and could even add its own terms in determining who will power the lights around the Commonwealth.

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