With the economic situation worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, Kentucky Power is proposing a three-step plan to help customers who have fallen behind in their electric bills, the company announced in a statement May 29.
The plan, the statement said, includes a bill credit to eliminate past due balances for customers, a new Flex Pay program giving customers more control over their monthly electric costs and a plan to lessen the impact of a future rate adjustment.
In a filing with the Kentucky Public Service Commission, the statement said, Kentucky Power has asked for approval to provide a bill credit for customers whose accounts are more than 30 days past due as of May 28. These credits would eliminate all delinquencies for those past due amounts. Kentucky Power would utilize a portion of its accumulated tax balance from the 2017 Tax Cuts and Job Act federal tax reform program to provide these credits.
“Our customers are facing serious economic challenges in eastern Kentucky. The pandemic has caused additional hardships for many in the region who were already struggling to make ends meet,” said Brett Mattison, Kentucky Power, president and chief operating officer. “We’re committed to providing essential power to the region in good times and bad and doing everything we can to help our customers. We have made donations to local organizations that provide essential services, and now we want to give our customers a fresh start so they can focus on keeping their families safe and healthy.”
More than 22,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers would receive a credit under the proposal. Credits would be calculated based on past due balances as of May 28. The credit would be a one-time adjustment, and customers would be responsible for any future balances accumulated between May 28 and the Commission’s approval.
Kentucky Power also is proposing an additional payment option called Flex Pay. The voluntary Flex Pay option would give customers the ability to pre-pay accounts to help them budget their monthly electricity costs. Customers participating in the Flex Pay program would not have to pay security deposits or late fees. In order to offer this program, new electric meter technology, Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), would need to be installed. This system would provide customers with more information to better manage their electricity usage. The AMI systems also would enhance restoration during outages.
A proposal for Flex Pay and to install AMI will be submitted to the Commission on June 29, 2020, as part of a base rate adjustment request.
In the base rate adjustment request, Kentucky Power will propose to delay any base rate increase that customers have to pay until January 1, 2022 by using an additional portion of the accumulated federal income tax balance to offset the increase.
“We understand the economic uncertainty that our customers are facing and have developed this multi-layered approach to give customers a break, offer them more control of their energy costs going forward and providing an additional year before seeing the impact of any rate adjustments on their bills,” Mattison said.