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First Bill Of 2019 Takes Aim At Utility Rates

AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File

Kentucky lawmakers plan to revive failed legislation beefing up protections for utility customers.

"We are going to take this fight back to the General Assembly again. We're not done fighting about it," says Whitesburg Democratic Rep. Angie Hatton.

BR 28, the first bill filed ahead of the 2019 legislative session, seeks to rein in out-of-control utility rates Hatton describes as "shocking." That’s according to supporters, who include Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear and fellow sponsor, Eastern Kentucky Rep. Chris Harris.

The measure grants more authority to the Public Service Commission, the body in charge of approving rate increases, by including utility companies' track records and affordability as items the panel can consider when entertaining rate hike requests.

"Before (utility companies) make a decision to pay their corporate executives $11.1 million dollar salaries, they should at least have to show that they've considered whether or not their rates are reasonably affordable to the rate-payers," Hatton said a press conference Thursday.

Backers promise streamlined utility bills as well, with language limiting hidden charges. In addition, utility providers would undergo regular managament and operations audits under the legislation.

BR 28 mirrors a measure that languished in committee during the 2018 session.

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