Ky. residents who lost power in ice storm may face rate hike

FRANKFORT — Utility companies sustained damages of more than $250 million from a late January ice storm that knocked out power to more than 770,000 Kentucky customers at its height, state officials told a House committee on Thursday.

Jeff Derouen, executive director of the Kentucky Public Service Commission, said it was too soon to say how much of those costs would be passed on to customers through rate hikes.

But Derouen said that it’s possible that some for-profit companies may ask for a rate increase to help offset the costs of the icy-wintry mix that cut power in more than 90 of Kentucky’s 120 counties. Many in Western Kentucky were without power for weeks after the storm, several people died from hypothermia.

Derouen told the House Committee on Natural Resources and Environment that the Public Service Commission was in the process of analyzing the public utilities’ response to the storm. A thorough report will be completed by late this summer, Derouen said.

The analysis will also include the utility’s response to the remnants of Hurricane Ike in late September, which knocked out power in counties along the Ohio River corridor. The vast majority of those power outages — around 600,000 — were located in Jefferson County, Derouen said.

The number of customers without power peaked at 770,000 during the ice storm and more than 9,000 power poles were felled by the icy conditions, Derouen said.


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