Lawmakers Scrutinize Ice Storm Response

The ice storm left electric utilities with a $250 million bill that someone has to pay.

There was word in Frankfort on Thursday that some of that expense could be paid out of your pocket. That came as lawmakers held a hearing over the response to the disaster.

Kentucky’s Public Service Commission is now expecting requests from utilities to pass on some of the expense of restoring power to more than 770,000 to the customers. But the amount customers could pay isn’t known.

“We don’t know the answers until we do the review,” said Ky. Public Service Commission Executive Director Jeff Derouen.

That review was the subject of a 30 minute hearing before state lawmakers Thursday morning.

“Our objective is to examine the way utilities prepared for and responded and the way Kentucky responded and prepared for these two disasters,” Derouen told lawmakers in a state House committee meeting, speaking of both the ice storm and Hurricane Ike’s impact on the state last fall.

The PSC says they will examine all aspects of the ice storm response including communication between customers and the utility.

Many electric customers were frustrated by their inability to contact their electric provider to report outages or to find out when the power might be back on.

“When they tried to call, they just got an automated call. They were not getting any kind of updates,” said Rep. Jim Gooch, D-Providence.

Privately owned utilities such as KU will likely seek higher rates, as they did in the ice storm of 2003. A PSC spokesman says KU was granted permission to recover $4 million over a 5 year period. Electric Co-ops will follow a different path for reimbursement.

"A very large portion of the damages to the Co-ops, which represent a very large portion of overall damage, will not flow through a rate payer, rather be placed through disaster funds,” said PSC spokesman Andrew Melnykovych

The PSC says their study of the ice storm response will be available by late summer.

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Dawn Location: Lexington on Mar 6, 2009 at 04:28 PM
    What about those customer that will not allow KU on their property to trim trees? Happens everyday That is where the problems are. I like everyone else, love big trees but not around power lines. Go UG, sure the expense would be equal to 125 ice storms. raise rates to offset and listen to the public yell again. Make each home owner responsible for trimming trees on their property and putting the lines UG.
  • by Don't pay!!! on Mar 6, 2009 at 10:12 AM
    All we can do is voice our opposition. Then when they pass it, none of us pay our bill! Even if 60% participated in not paying the bill and they shut our power off. It wouldn't stay off for long, the electric companies lose a lot of money when you are not using power. They would lose a lot more than they would gain by passing the buck to thier customers due to thier lack of prepreation.
  • by granny on Mar 6, 2009 at 06:17 AM
    Preventive maintenance (trimming the trees)would just make too much sense. We lost power for 6 long cold days and the SAME bored voice gave you the SAME recorded message every time you called.That was so very frustrating.Once again we'll pay ...what choice do we have ?? But it's really tough on seniors on a fixed income.
  • by roger Location: floyd county on Mar 6, 2009 at 06:05 AM
    i can under stand mother nature can cause a lot of problems but the power company, telephone company and the tv companys brought a lot of this on there own self by not keeping the right way cut the trees are growing up thru the lines yea you can blame mother nature for doing her job by growing her trees i wander if i let my grass grow to waste high if i could get a raise on my pay check for not cuting it before they raise our bills thay need to check their records and see how much was spent on cuting the right way under these line by all the companys and dont blame mother nature for doing her job lets but the blame where it belongs
  • by AEP Customer on Mar 6, 2009 at 05:51 AM
    Why not give the power companies some of that Stimulus money that they are throwing away to the uncalled for AIG Insurance company who is going to belly up anyway. Atleast we will be able to use the electric unlike the AIG Insurance. Stop giving the money to the useless and put it toward something useful.
  • by Lora Location: Pike Co. on Mar 5, 2009 at 09:42 PM
    I have already paid my fair share to help repair the lines in December, January, and February. If the power bills hadn't been tripled on the customers, then the power company might have been spared all the cost of repairs. You reap what you sow! Don't send the bill our way.
  • by Eastern KY on Mar 5, 2009 at 04:55 PM
    There is not much "people" can do with Mother Nature. It is really sad, with the economy the way it is, that us, the consumers, AGAIN, have to pay for something we had NO control over. The Federal Government can rebuild Iraq & Afganistan, donate billions & trillions of dollars to other countries but when a natural disaster hits our country, THE UNITED STATES, the taxpayers picks up the bill, yet again. How much more can we and will we be expected to pay!?!
  • by Dee Location: Georgetgown on Mar 5, 2009 at 03:41 PM
    This makes me angry. I do not believe the cost of the ice storm problems should be passed on to us the consumer. If Kentucky Utilities, or whom ever is responsible for keeping these trees trimmed, and away from powerlines, I believe we would have had a lot less problems with downed power lines, and so forth. A person cannot even drive down a country road, or nearly any other road without seeing power lines all wrapped up in trees. Come on, Someone needs to do something to stop this problem from happening in the future. A really good place to start would be cutting these trees down, and away from the power lines. Thats garbage when the government wants to make its citizens pay for poor management on their behalf, and on the behalf of companies. I didn't even lose my electric, nor do I have big trees by powerlines! Ha! Sounds like the big government we are going into anyway. Bunch of GARBAGE!!!!! What a joke!


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