Thursday, December 29, 2005

LG&E -- Lousy Gougers and Estimators

We've all heard about the 43% increase in Louisville Gas & Electric's gas prices. Like my own natural gas, something smells about this story. I did the math on my own bill, the gas rates alone, and game up with a 56% increase over the rates on my bill last year.

THinking I misheard something, I went to the Courier Journal, where I came across this story:

State approves LG&E gas price revision
The Courier-Journal

Kentucky regulators Monday approved Louisville Gas & Electric Co.'s application to pare its December-January natural gas price increase.

The company says the new rate will save typical customers using 8,000 square feet of natural gas about $18 a month, compared with November gas price. The rate will be about 43 percent higher than last winter.

LG&E asked the Kentucky Public Service Commission for the adjustment last month after determining that wholesale prices from its suppliers wouldn't be as high this winter as the company had expected. Gas companies are normally allowed to pass on their supply costs to customers, but aren't permitted to make additional profit.

November's typical bill was up 64 percent from a year ago, reflecting natural gas price spikes brought on by higher demand, lower production and fall hurricane damage to production and transmission equipment on the Gulf Coast.

LG&E normally files its prices, based on wholesale natural gas costs from its providers, every three months. The company said it asked for an interim adjustment to reduce the sharp increase in heating bills customers are expected to face this winter.

I e-mailed the CJ's editor, Pam Platt, about the story, and got a response that the 43% was actually on the "typical bill". What the hell is a "typical bill"? How is it figured? Given the fact that there are now numerous stories about business owners and homeowners going into shock over their bill, even AFTER being prepared, I'm wondering if the news outlets weren't too willing to accept LG&E's comments at face value.

I fear that Louisville Gas & Electric, now that they're shifting to their foreign owned parent company, will wind up moving from a proud locally oriented concern to just another profit center for a larger company.

In the mean time, I gotta buy some long underwear.

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