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LG&E and KU to Invest in Upgrades to Further Improve Safe, Reliable Service

Louisville Gas and Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities Company started a $2.2 billion investment program in July that will last until June 2018. The investments in their electric and natural gas system will improve safety, reduce outage times and enhance service to customers.

Why the investments are necessary

Restoring electricity has traditionally required manual inspections to determine the cause of an outage before a crew can physically restore power.

  • Today, however, automated equipment can detect an outage and enable operators at a control center to remotely reroute power to isolate the situation.
  • Additionally, advanced meters, which offer customers near-real-time energy-use information, allow utilities to determine where outages are occurring, quickly diagnose the cause and respond, at times, even before the customer reports it.
  • Combined, the two technologies give utilities better information to restore power more quickly.

What customers can expect

Intelligent controls

  • The utilities are planning to install intelligent control equipment on the distribution system that serves homes and neighborhoods, and similar equipment on the high-voltage transmission systems that connect to the national grid. While not exactly the same, both types of equipment will improve reliability by allowing for rapid isolation of outages and faster restoration times.

Transmission upgrades

  • For example, a five-year transmission upgrade program that includes replacing aging equipment such as wooden poles, cross arms, insulators, lines and substation controls is planned.

Generation enhancements

  • Investments at the plants will include permanent gypsum dewatering system at Mill Creek to enable more coal byproducts to be recycled for use in commercial applications like wallboard. The utilities also plan to demolish the retired coal-fired equipment at Cane Run, Green River and Tyrone.
  • Other improvements in the generation business include adding a natural gas line to allow Paddy’s Run, a seasonal combustion turbine, to run year-round; and converting the start-up boilers at Trimble County from fuel oil to natural gas.

Natural gas upgrades

  • LG&E plans to expand its replacement of aging natural gas steel service lines from the street to customers’ homes with new plastic pipe and also has plans to its remove aging steel from its natural gas transmission lines as well. Additional capacity is also being added to enhance reliability and promote economic growth in the region.

Continued low rates

LG&E and KU have worked hard over the years to maintain low rates — which are 15 to 25 percent lower than national averages — while working to continuously improve their standings as industry leaders in safety, customer satisfaction and reliability.

  • As a result of these continued investments, on Nov. 23, KU will request a base rate increase of $103.1 million.
  • LG&E will request an increase of $93.6 million for its electric business and $13.8 million for its natural gas operations.

Bill Impact on Residential Customers

  • If approved, a KU residential customer using an average of 1,179 kilowatts per month is expected to see an increase of $7.16. An LG&E residential electric customer using an average of 957 kWh per month is expected to see an increase of $9.65, and a residential gas customer using and average of 55 Ccf of natural gas per month is expected to see an increase of $2.99.
  • If approved as requested, the increase would be the first in more than four years for LG&E electric customers and would keep both utilities’ rates among the lowest in the nation.