Utility bills for LG&E and KU customers could go up

Published: May. 25, 2011 at 8:37 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 18, 2011 at 7:30 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - At a time when the cost of just about everything seems to be going up, it looks like you might be able to add your electric bill to the list. LG&E and Kentucky Utilities are asking for an increase.

The increase would be to the "environmental cost recovery" part of your bill, about 2% next year and going up to 19.2% by 2016. An LG&E spokesperson says it's not the utility company's choice, instead blame the government.

Ibrahim Mahamad says he doesn't know English very well but he knows what he sees on his electric bill.

"More money," said Mahamad of his bill. "Before it's low. Now it's up, up. I don't know."

He's not alone. Outside of LG&E's payment center, person after person said an increase in their electric bill will hit them hard.

"There ain't too much you can do," said William Stills. "Right now I'm cutting back as much as I can but you know how that is."

"It's a burden for us," LG&E spokesman Chip Keeling said. "It's a burden for our customers."

Keeling says he expected the customer response but the blame goes to the Environmental Protection Agency.

"The EPA is forcing utilities to do this," he said. "We don't have a choice."

To meet those EPA requirements, LG&E will make upgrades to its scrubbers and increase filtering systems to reduce emissions of particulates and mercury, but Keeling says it's work that has to be done.

"It's not a question of are we going to meet them," he said. "The question is when and how and how much money. We have to meet these regulations because the EPA is mandating it for us to do it. They're forcing us to do it."

The upgrades, however necessary, still only mean one thing to LG&E customers: more money out of their family budgets.

"I have no idea what I would do," said LaTosha Carr. "I'll probably lose my mind. Everything is just raising sky-high. We're barely making it as it is."

LG&E and Kentucky Utilities will formally make the request to the Public Service Commission June 1. Keeling expects to have a ruling before December.

He also adds that coal-fired utilities across the country will have to do the same thing, making labor and materials hard to come by.

Copyright 2011 WAVE News. All rights reserved.