Correction: Law Prohibits Certain Power Customers From Tapping Another Provider
As public outcry continues over high Paducah Power System residential bills, disgruntled customers remain stuck with the provider, even if they wanted to switch.
The PPS Board has been getting its power from Prairie State Energy Campus in southern Illinois, of which the board is a part-owner. Prairie State has been under-producing its expected wattage supply and in turn caused customers’ bills to inflate.
Recently, several key board members have stepped down from leadership following criticism from the public and municipal government officials. However, officials say prices won't be falling anytime soon.
According to Public Service Commission Spokesman Andrew Melnykovych, customers in the Paducah municipal utilities district can't find an alternative due to state law. (CORRECTION: The state law excludes municipality owned services like Paducah Power. We are looking into the details of what prevents rates payers from switching power services- 10-8-14)
He says KRS statute 278.017, known as the Territorial Act, effectively prohibits customers from drawing power from a competing electric provider outside of their established exclusive service territory.
“In exchange for essentially being protected against competition, electric utilities are granted service territories and within those service territories they’re obligated to serve every customer who meets those conditions of service, in other words pays their bills on time and so forth," said Melnykovych. "So in a situation like this, if you live in Paducah and you’re served by Paducah Power, that is really your only option.”
Excluding municipal utilities, there are 7 electricity service retail districts in our listening area.
Although, the PSC does not regulate municipalities like Paducah says Melnykovych.
"Law specifically exempts them from service and rate regulation from the Public Service Commission," said Melnykovych. "The theory being that they are basically self-regulating through the political process and the municipality that the company serves. If people don't like some aspect of the company's rates or operations, they can take it to their elected officials."
He says the only exception to the rule would be if two power providers mutually agreed on delegating power to an individual customer who lives on the border of two service areas.