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January 11, 2018

Letter calls on federal government to ensure customers receive benefits of reduced tax rate for Utilities

Refunds may be owed, message says


FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 11, 2018) – Attorney General Andy Beshear today joined a bipartisan coalition of 18 state attorneys general, state agencies and consumer advocates in calling on the federal government to ensure Kentuckians, not public utilities, receive the benefits of the recently reduced federal corporate tax rate.



'...In the letter sent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Beshear is asking the federal commission to reduce the rates public utilities charge – including electric, natural gas and oil companies – to ensure tax savings are passed on to Kentuckians.'

AG Andy Beshear and Gov. Matt Bevin shaking hands early in 2017. The two have been at odds on several key issues in the past.AG Andy Beshear and Gov. Matt Bevin shaking hands early in 2017. The two have been at odds on several key issues in the past.

 

The utility rates Kentuckians pay include utilities’ cost for federal income taxes. Without action by the federal commission, customers would continue to pay the same utility rate even though there has been a reduction of the corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent.

If left unadjusted, customers in Kentucky and nationwide will overpay for their electric and gas services by hundreds of millions of dollars, Beshear said.

Kentuckians pay utilities’ taxes at the state and federal level. Ahead of today’s announcement, the Kentucky state agency that regulates public utilities, the Public Service Commission (PSC), issued orders to public utilities asking them to begin tracking their savings under the lower tax rates.

“Kentuckians were called upon to pay utility bills at the previous, higher tax rate, and now that the companies’ taxes are lower, all the savings should be returned immediately to each ratepayer,” Beshear said. “It is time for the federal government and the PSC to act quickly to protect Kentucky families.”

The utility rates Kentuckians pay include utilities’ cost for federal income taxes. Without action by the federal commission, customers would continue to pay the same utility rate even though there has been a reduction of the corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent.The utility rates Kentuckians pay include utilities’ cost for federal income taxes. Without action by the federal commission, customers would continue to pay the same utility rate even though there has been a reduction of the corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent.



The coalition also requested the federal commission open an investigation into the fairness of all applicable rates recovered by public utilities with respect to federal corporate income taxes.

By taking this action, the coalition believes customers should promptly receive the full economic benefit of the tax reduction. The coalition also asked the federal commission to review the amounts the utilities are holding in reserves to pay future tax liabilities, and set an immediate refund date and order appropriate rate relief to ratepayers.

The letter requests the federal commission act as quickly as possible to make any necessary changes and use its experience and expertise to determine the best ways to expedite this matter to safeguard customers.

Beshear’s Office of Rate Intervention serves as a watchdog for consumers in matters relating to health insurance, natural gas, water, sewer, electric and telephone rates. Under Kentucky law, the office is responsible for representing the interests of Kentucky consumers before governmental ratemaking agencies, concentrating on utility cases before PSC.

This month, Beshear’s office recommended that the PSC reduce the current rates Duke Energy charges its Kentucky customers by $16 million.

In 2017, Beshear announced that his Office of Rate Intervention entered into a settlement with LG&E and KU that will save Kentucky ratepayers $90 million annually – $33.2 million of that for residential customers. He also recommended the Public Service Commission deny AEP/Kentucky Power’s more than $60 million proposed increase.

Overall in 2017, Beshear’s office saved families over $96 million in increases to their utility bills.

Joining Attorney General Andy Beshear in sending the letter are the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, as well as the Connecticut Office of Consumer Counsel, the Florida Office of Public Counsel, the Maine Office of the Public Advocate, the New Hampshire Office of the Consumer Advocate, the Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers, and the Vermont Department of Public Service.

January 8, 2018

 

City workers fix blocked line but home owner disputes claim that problem is hers

LOUISA, Ky. -- A resident of one of Lawrence County's newest and most expensive neighborhoods is asking for answers as to why sewage is backing up from the city sewer system into her home.

Nicole Wells, who said she and her family purchased a home in the Levisa Drive subdivision in 2015 said she enjoys living here -- most of the time.

Here's her story:

"...We moved here in January of 2015 at the end of Levisa Drive. In the summers we generally have a sewage backup a few times but this is the first winter we have had continuous problems for 3 weeks straight.

"The week of Christmas the opposite side of the road from our house was leaking sewage and came to our side. We called and the city workers came out and fixed the pump. The next week the pipe in the picture exploded and popped off the cap causing poop to go flying everywhere," Mrs. Wells said."The week of Christmas the opposite side of the road from our house was leaking sewage and came to our side. We called and the city workers came out and fixed the pump. The next week the pipe in the picture exploded and popped off the cap causing poop to go flying everywhere," Mrs. Wells said.The week of Christmas the opposite side of the road from our house was leaking sewage and came to our side. We called and they came out and fixed the pump. The next week the pipe in the picture exploded and popped off the cap causing poop to go flying everywhere. They (city officials) say it is something wrong with the pump but if they know there is a problem, it isn’t getting fixed.

Then today when we flushed in the house it started backing up into our house until the cap came off.

The mayor is aware that we have pump issues on the road and has been contacted multiple times.

Some people on the street have the exact problems as we do and the city is saying it is the home builder's fault, but the problem is the city sewer if it is happening to multiple houses on this street -- and then even admitting the pump has something to do with it.

It constantly backs up on the road. This is the first time it has come into our house. Every time we flush it overflows in the front yard now.

We all just want a solution on Levisa Drive. I don’t want to cause problems but I feel like standing raw sewage even in freezing temps should have a high priority.


Mayor says city not to blame...

Despite Mrs. Wells' statement to the contrary, Louisa mayor Harold Slone said today that he was not aware of the ongoing problem and issued the following statement:

"...Not aware of any issue except pump going down a week or so ago and it was replaced. And then another problem at an individual residence sewer backup and we have scheduled some testing to be done to determine if it is a problem with our line (or the homeowner's) before digging up blacktop.

"...I was not aware of any other problems. I will check back through the work order system and see what I find and make contact with the guys now (today). They (city water workers) have been covered up the last two weeks but still I wasn't aware of consistent ongoing problems."

After Slone checked with Mrs. Wells today about 5:00pm, he sent city water workers to her home and it was discovered that it was indeed a problem with her private line, Slone said.

"The guys figured it out pretty quickly because they had already been aware of the flooding," Slone said. "We went ahead and helped her with it because we have the equipment to do it with."

Slone said the stopped up sewer line is now working properly and that the city sewer line is working like it is supposed to also. "She (Mrs. Wells) was very nice about it and when she understood what had happened, she thanked us," Slone said at 6:30 pm today.

But Mrs. Wells says she still thinks the city is at fault, not her.

"...There is no proof it is our line. When they cleaned it out today there were baby wipes which we do not flush and cigarette butts. We do not smoke. The mayor's call today was a bit on the rude side. It has been happening for many months mostly on the line opposite the street of ours where there is no house and now on our side. The last time it came out of the clean out on our side the sewer water was flowing out of the manhole and other clean outs a few hundred feet upstream from us and was on the verge of doing the same today. If the clog was on our line the main line should not be backed up. It’s ok for now though and it will happen again and everything will be documented so we can get to the bottom of this ongoing issue."

"There is no proof it is our house causing the problems," she added. "Someone is just covering their own butt on this one."

Homes in the neighborhood beside the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy are high dollar properties and residents pay top dollar city taxes.

Slone said the city has had numerous water leaks and frozen pipes as well as sewer problems since the historic cold spell hit the area almost a month ago. Many of the water and sewer lines in Louisa are nearly 100 years old and the problems are only going to get worse until a complete new system can be installed.

 

 

January 8, 2018

Supt. explains process of canceling school days

 

By Dr. Rob Fletcher


A recent conversation with a fellow superintendent included the following statement: “I did not know that calling off school would be such a difficult decision.” Unfortunately, the new year began with several opportunities to make that decision for most superintendents in eastern Kentucky and across our Commonwealth.

For several counties, including Lawrence County, the first eight days of 2018 brought about heating issues in buildings, buses unable to start, evidence of continuing flu concerns, temperatures at or near 0 degrees, and freezing rain on our roadways. Each of these factors can be stand-alone reasons for cancelling school, but when they are combined, it provides an even greater argument for cancelling school, or at least, having other alternatives to traveling to school.

(As a side note: Members of our transportation and maintenance departments worked some long hours on buses and classroom heating units. Thank you to Transportation Director Rick Blackburn, Maintenance Manager Gary Colvin, and our staff members.)

Fortunately, our school district has a calendar that is designed to absorb some days like these. Of the five days that students were not in classrooms (so far in 2018), one day was a flexible professional development day moved from another day in the calendar. Since these days are already in the school calendar, moving a flex PD day does not change the last day of school. Also, two days were non-traditional instructional, or NTI, days. These days allow our students to work and to learn from home, with no exposure to the weather, flu, etc. With our NTI days, students were not in the classroom physically, but they were in the classroom virtually. Many districts have applied for, and have been granted, NTI days as part of their school calendar.

When the school day is cancelled, or altered, there is a system of events that occurs. After receiving information from the National Weather Service, reading several other forecasts, checking roadways, and receiving any other applicable data, the decision is made.

This is the typical chain of notifications that ensue when the school day is affected:


*  Twitter and the district website. Literally, the decision is communicated within seconds via these two outlets. If you have a Twitter account, you can follow me at Dr. Fletcher@All_in_LC. If you do not have Twitter, the notification appears on the district website almost simultaneously at www.lawrence.kyschools.us.


*  Phone messenger. Due to the time to set up a phone message, parents and staff members will typically receive this message approximately 15-30 minutes after the decision is made.


*  Media outlets. Due to time required in contacting various media outlets, this process can take from 15-45 minutes before you will see the announcement on TV/online or hear it on the radio.

If you have any questions about the process, feel free to call at 606.638.9671 or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Hopefully, a change in the weather pattern will occur, and we can get back to the seeing students in classrooms.

Happy New Year and ALL IN!


Robbie L. Fletcher, EdD
Superintendent, Lawrence County Schools