Beginning Tuesday, August 20, customers of Jackson Purchase Energy Corp. (JPEC) will be paying approximately 21 percent more for their electricity, due to a rate increase by Big Rivers Electric Corporation, JPEC’s power supplier.
All of the increase will go to Big Rivers, JPEC chief executive Kelly Nuckols said, because of a rate case filing brought about by Big Rivers’ loss effective Tuesday of its biggest customer, Century Aluminum. The loss of Century as a customer was the primary reason for Big Rivers requesting a $74 million rate increase from the Kentucky Public Service Commission back in January.
A series of hearings before the PSC in which JPEC and others were intervenors has led to the Big Rivers’ increase request being trimmed to $68.6 million, but a final order authorizing precisely what the increase will be has not yet been issued by the PSC. Under PSC rules, Big Rivers can collect the full amount of its request until the PSC approves the final amount, then refund the difference.
“No one likes to see our members have to pay more for electricity,” Nuckols said, “especially in a situation like this when it is totally beyond our control. We will continue to do all we can to hold down costs here on the JPEC system, and we will continue to work hard on recruiting new industrial customers as well.”
Beginning on Tuesday, and until the PSC issues its final order in the case, the residential JPEC member using the system average of 1,255 kilowatt hours of electricity per month will pay about $128, up from approximately $106 per month under current rates. Nuckols said member bills will be adjusted to a lower rate when the PSC issues its final order in the case, and members will be advised when that happens.
The need for the increase came about when Century was able to successfully get out of its power contract with Big Rivers and go to the open market for its electricity. Century had threatened to shut down its Hawesville, Kentucky smelter if it were not able to change its electricity supplier, meaning the loss of nearly 650 jobs.
JPEC is one of three member-owned cooperatives in western Kentucky who own Big Rivers and buy their electricity from it. The others are Kenergy, based in Henderson, and Meade County Rural Electric Cooperative Corp., based in Brandenburg.
JPEC serves nearly 30,000 members in all or parts of six western Kentucky counties—McCracken, Livingston, Marshall, Ballard, Graves and Carlisle.