HAZARD — Kentucky Power hosted a Community Outreach Workshop at Hazard Community and Technical College Wednesday evening. The purpose of the workshop was to discuss billing questions and energy efficiency programs, among other items of interest, with the public. The workshop was open to everyone. Customers were encouraged to bring their bills if necessary to assist with illustrating their questions and concerns.
Hazard was the first of three Community Outreach Workshops Kentucky Power has organized. Feb. 9 was the date for the Prestonsburg workshop at Big Sandy Technical and Community College. Another is scheduled for Ashland Feb. 13, with the venue to be determined soon.
This outreach effort comes at a time when many customers are publicly questioning a sudden increase on their monthly bills. Customers are curious, and have many questions, about a number of added on fees they have seen on their billing statements.
Doug Bryant, a Kentucky Power Customer and Perry County native, attended the workshop. Bryant had this to say,
“I went to two tables. One was concerning the fees, riders and taxes on our bills and the other table was looking at my power usage and possible ways to reduce. The representatives at the tables were very helpful in terms of explaining, but none of them gave any hope that the prices would change. Basically, it was up to the customers to work on ways to reduce power usage and thus reduce the bill. They will come out and do an evaluation of your home and help you pinpoint problems. For example, heat pump could be the problem or loose ducts, hot water heater or whatever else.”
The Hazard Herald spoke with Kentucky Power for an article that was published a couple of weeks ago. In that article, the company says 80 percent of its electricity continues to come from coal. In reference to fees and riders, Kentucky Power said some of them are temporary and will go away, some will adjust throughout time based on outside factors and others are long term. According to Kentucky Power, customers often have misconceptions about some of the company’s fees. The school tax on power bills is instituted through the government with Kentucky Power simply acting as the collections agency. Kentucky Power said one of the most misunderstood charges is the Big Sandy retirement rider. This rider is not used to cover employee retirement benefits. Instead, the company said, it is used to cover leftover costs from the decommissioning of equipment. When new equipment is purchased, the company spreads the cost throughout several years in order to avoid raising bills to cover the full amount all at once. The Big Sandy retirement rider is placed on bills to cover costs that are still owed on decommissioned equipment.
Kentucky Power is a unit of Ohio based American Electric Power. According to AEP’s report on fourth quarter 2016 and overall year-end earnings, Nicholas K. Akins, AEP chairman, president and chief executive officer is quoted as saying, ““For the first time in more than a year, we saw positive retail sales growth in the fourth quarter of 2016, and we expect modest overall load growth in 2017 as improving energy and metals prices support industrial growth and our regional economies. We benefited from warmer than normal weather in 2016, but low energy prices, a strong dollar and a weak global economy reduced overall load growth year-over-year.”
The complete report, along with further commentary from Akins can be found in news releases posted on aep.com. More information about Community Outreach Workshops and other news surrounding Kentucky Power can be found on Kentucky Power’s Facebook page. Kentucky Power encourages customers with billing questions or issues with their service to call 1-800-572-1113.
Sam Neace can be reached at 606-629-3243 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.