Saturday, December 29, 2012

Eat or Heat? Kentucky Approves Rate Increase for Profitable Utilities

Private utility companies really are the absolute worst. They get monopolies so they don't have to compete on either price or service; they buy weak regulation from state legislators so the Public Service Commission is essentially required to give them rate increases; and their "customers" are really hostages, whose only "choice" is to pay the monthly ransom or go without water and electricity.

At least with public utility companies, you can vote with motherfuckers out.
The Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) today accepted a settlement granting revenue adjustments that increase the base electric rates for customers of Kentucky Utilities Co. (KU) and the base electric and natural gas rates for customers of Louisville Gas and Electric Co. (LG&E).

The revenue adjustments are at levels agreed to by the two utilities, the Kentucky Office of Attorney General and other parties to the utilities’ rate cases, among them the Kentucky Industrial Utility Customers Inc. (KIUC), Kroger Co., the Kentucky School Boards Association and advocates for low-income consumers.
Uh, no. If they signed off on this abomination, they are not "advocates for low-income consumers." They are parties to the ass-fucking of low-income consumers.
In orders issued today, the PSC said that accepting the settlement is in the public interest because they result in a rates “consistent with those justified by our traditional rate-making analysis.” The PSC found that the rates in the settlement are fair, just and reasonable. The new rates take effect on Jan. 1, 2013.
KU, by the way, is a giant money tree for its non-Kentucky parent corporation.
Under the settlement agreement, the average monthly bill for a typical KU residential customer will increase by $5.16 (5.6 percent). A typical LG&E residential electric customer will see the average monthly bill increase by $4.25 (5 percent). The average monthly bill for an LG&E residential natural gas customer will increase by $5.57, a figure that includes a new surcharge for infrastructure improvements but does not take into account any fluctuations in the price of natural gas itself.
Five percent hike? In a year when inflation has been under two percent but unemployment over eight percent? A five percent hike for people who already have literally nothing left at the end of the month after paying rent and buying food and medicine? Why not 500 percent? The result for working people is the same.

But that's nothing compared to this little time bomb:
... does not take into account any fluctuations in the price of natural gas itself.
Translation: We'll hike your rates 10 percent, or 50 percent, or 100 percent whenever a new yacht catches our eye or just because it's fun to fuck with the poors and you can't stop us.

Because nobody knows the real price of natural gas any more than anybody knows the real price behind the roller-coaster changes at your local gas station.

But it's not like they didn't warn us.
Officials of the state's utility companies told lawmakers (in June 2011) that all Kentucky customers can expect average rate increases of 20 percent during the next five years.

John Voyles Jr., a vice president of Louisville Gas & Electric and Kentucky Utilities, told a legislative committee that a host of new Environmental Protection Agency regulations will mean upgrades and changes to the state's coal-fired power plants, resulting in increased costs to customers.

Voyles said power companies are looking at an "unprecedented number of proposed regulations" in the next four years that will require changes to comply with pollution standards.
Those would be the "unprecedented number of proposed regulations" that:
  •  are the absolute bare minimum necessary to prevent thousands of premature deaths caused by air pollution from those coal-fired plants.
  • will never take effect because the utility companies will use the millions of dollars they steal from ratepayers to bribe congress to block those regulations.
One lonely voice in the Kentucky General Assembly asked the right question.
But Sen. Ray Jones, D-Pikeville, questioned why statutes allow the companies to recover both capital and operating costs from customers for changes made to comply with regulations. That means they can still make a profit and pass all of the costs on to the customers.
Don't worry that Sen. Jones will make life difficult for the utilities.  Either he'll accept the bribes the utilities offer him, or his next election opponent will.

The private water companies are if anything even more arrogant and greedy.

Beth Musgrave at the Herald:
A rate increase requested Friday by Kentucky American Water would add an average of $5.76 to residential bills each month, raising the typical payment about 17.6 percent, from $32.75 to $38.51.
This from a German-owned company that has been stealing land and money from Central Kentuckians and conning the PSC for decades. I think their motto is:

"You can live without electricity or heat, but not without water. Pay us or die."


Victor said...

Why not just take the exec's, and PR people, and just keep squeezing the feckin' hot air out of the motherfeckers?

A lot of, CO2, though. More, even, than bovine flatulation.

Maybe burn the motherfecker's, instead.
(Good thing I'm not a sorta famous blogger, like Eric Loomis, or AssRocket and Ms. Ann Winebox would be calling for my head on a stic... For me to be fired!).

If the Tennesse Valley Authority was a privately held company, to this day, there'd still be a majority of people in the South burning whale oil, or burning cow, pig, squirrel, or raccoon poop, for light and heat.

Or, throwing flaming tires around the necks of black people, like they did in South Africa, to keep warm.

Let's privatize everything, and just end this country right now!
Why prolong the agony?

Oh, and anyone who's still against secession, please explain why?

We are two seperate countries, with little in common, except a flag, the word "United," and something vaguely, sorta, kinda, resembling the same feckin' language - and that means, all y'all, all of youse, or all of you!
Meaning - US.
As in the former United States.

Tom Hilton said...

It's not much better here in California. PG&E went decades without doing adequate maintenance or testing or even keeping records on its pipelines, which came to light after a pipeline explosion that killed 8 people and destroyed upwards of 35 homes. And our toothless PUC just voted to allow PG&E to pass 2/3 of the cost of pipeline upgrades--necessary because of their negligence--on to the consumers.

Victor said...

I live in Upstate NY, but I heard from some people I know on Long Island, that when the power crews from CA and other state came here after Hurricane Sandy, they were astonished at how bad the system was on the island.
They said it looks like little to nothing's been done to repair, let alone upgrade, the electric grid there since the 1950's - except to cut, paste, and glue together things after previous storms.

And it's not like LIer's don't pay some of the highest electric rates, or taxes, in the country.

And shame on that company, the local, state, and federal governments, and the NY PUC, for not overseeing LILCO.
But mostly, the company, which was doing nothing except pocketing payments, and giving them back to executives and shareholders.

Bulworth said...

Ah, "revenue adjustments".

But no taxes can ever be raised on anyone, ever, or else TYRANNY!

Isn't there a Kentucky-based teabagger group to protest this rate increase? I'm sure they care. /

Jack said...

Come back from vacation soon, Steve! I'm dying to hear your interpretation of these fiscal cliff negotiations! (Which, in the past two hours, reached something of a climax as the GOP went into full emotional breakdown in response to Obama's press conference.)