Rate increase to affect thousands

Graphic by Charles Myrick
Graphic by Charles Myrick

Over 23,000 local customers will be affected by a rate increase in their electricity bill soon.

Cumberland Valley Electric has applied for a general rate increase through the Kentucky Public Service Commission that will impact customers across Knox County.

The proposed rate increase will take effect Monday, July 25. This increase was originally filed in June and will impact approximately 23,500 residential and commercial customers across the region, including those in Bell, Harlan, Knox, Laurel, Leslie, Letcher, McCreary and Whitley counties.

Customers can expect a nearly 5 percent overall increase. This is the second rate increase since January 2015. Residential customers, schools and churches will see an increase of $1,628,748, or 5.81 percent. For more information, see the info box on page A1.

The main contributing factor for this rate increase comes from the overall decline in the coal industry that has shaken several communities and businesses across Kentucky, including CVE.

“We have experienced a decline of the coal industry in southeastern Kentucky,” said Robert Tolliver, office manager at CVE. “We are experiencing a decline across all revenues.”

While the company has seen an overall decline in their own revenue, Tolliver also said businesses and people leaving the area due to the loss of coal jobs also impacts daily function and contributes to price increases.

Barbourville Utility Commission General Manager Josh Callihan said that while their company has also seen a steady increase in their rates over the past 7 years due to the war on coal, as of right now they do not have a rate increase planned. A call was made to Kentucky Utilities, but no one was available for comment.

Cumberland Valley Electric customers can visit www.cumberlandvalley.coop or call 606-528-2677 for more information, including tips on energy saving programs.