American electric power is requesting a 24-percent rate increase that would raise monthly bills by nearly 35 percent.
The people I talked to are not happy with the idea of increasing their power bills. They talked to members of Kentucky Power, a company affiliated with AEP about how this would affect their lives.
One by one, people stepped up to the podium at Pikeville High School auditorium to express frustration about the proposed increase.
“They just can't afford it,” Sheila May says. “So AEP is going to do nothing but cause more cutoffs and when you have those cutoffs and people try to find alternative ways to heat their residences, what do you think is going to happen?”
The Public Service Commission is holding a series of meetings to get feedback from AEP Customers.
“It helps the commission frame the rate request in a larger context in terms of how that rate increase is going to affect the rate payers, the community and it's just helpful for the commission to get that perspective,” Andrew Melnykovych says.
Some people we talked to say it will be tough to pay the bill if the increase happens.
“I'm on a budget right now just to make sure we don't get hit with tremendous bills from the winter and it's hard enough to make it as it is,” Terry Smith says. “I just don't see how people are going to afford it.”
“You put thirty six percent to it and the power company would get less money than they're getting because they'll have people who can't pay their bill and eventually cut the power off,” Clayton Little says.
Melnykovych says the PSC will take all comments into consideration.
“Utilities need to have a reasonable income stream,” Melnykovych says. “And to order and maintain and operate their facilities and the balancing act for the commission is to determine where that fare adjust falls.”
And people say this increase would devastate families in Eastern Kentucky.
If you did not get to Pikeville high school tonight, there will be another meeting tomorrow night at five at hazard community and technical college.