Intervening for schools, part 4
Kentucky School Advocate
By Madelynn Coldiron
KSBA is intervening on behalf of school districts in a utility rate increase case before the state Public Service Commission. This makes the fourth time the association has taken this step on behalf of school districts that will be impacted by potentially higher rates.
The PSC recently accepted KSBA’s bid to join a host of other groups and businesses in intervening in a November 2016 request from Louisville Gas and Electric/Kentucky Utilities to raise rates in part to offset the cost of upgrades to their electric and natural gas systems.
Each utility is seeking a different level of increase, but school energy managers are crunching the numbers and the overall average “if the electric rates went in as proposed would be around 6 percent for KU-served districts and 9 percent for LG&E-served districts,” said Ron Willhite, director of KSBA’s School Energy Managers Project. “We will seek to mitigate the impact on public schools. We’ve been successful in the past with our efforts.”
KSBA’s interventions in three previous rate increase cases starting in 2010 all resulted in settlements with the utilities and other parties involved. The settlements, he said, produced, “a fairly significant reduction in what was asked,” along with funding from the utilities to KSBA earmarked for school district energy efficiency improvements – either for facilities or for helping pay the salary of school district energy managers. In effect, the monetary benefit of the settlements helps school systems involved in two ways: through lower-than-requested rates and through the savings achieved by energy efficiencies, Willhite noted.
The Council for Better Education is kicking in $25,000 to help fund the cost of this latest intervention. School boards in the 84 districts affected are being asked to supplement that in proportionate amounts in case more is needed.
KSBA is in good company in this case – other interveners include the cities of Louisville and Lexington; the state attorney general; groups representing industries, community action agencies and cable television companies; Kroger; Wal-Mart; the U.S. Department of Defense; and Louisville Ministerial Association.
“This case has attracted more interveners than prior cases,” Willhite said.
The next step will be for KSBA and others to submit written testimony March 3. If past patterns hold true, settlement talks will follow at some point.