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Public Service Commission renews program to help struggling coal companies

ASHLAND, Ky. — The Kentucky Public Service Commission issued an order Tuesday renewing a program that helps struggling coal businesses reopen and put miners back to work in Eastern Kentucky.

The order extends the Coal Plus program, first approved in 2017, through Dec. 31, 2019. Coal Plus allows Kentucky Power flexibility in three of its tariffs to offer special contracts with coal companies and coal processing businesses. Companies that agree to operate under an interruptible rate, for example, receive a discount. Several coal-related businesses have taken advantage of provisions under Coal Plus and others have expressed interest.

“Coal Plus is helping to spur economic development and revitalize our communities,” said Kentucky Power President Brett Mattison. “By renewing Coal Plus, Kentucky Power can continue to give coal companies greater short-term flexibility to take advantage of different rates than those approved by the Public Service Commission. Continuing the program is good for the coal industry and our customers.”

In recent years, Kentucky Power has become a strong advocate of economic development, which includes business retention and expansion, in the 20 counties it serves in Eastern Kentucky. Since 2016, with the launch of the Economic Development Growth Grants (K-PEGG) program, the company has invested about $6 million in Eastern Kentucky communities. The grants are funded through the Kentucky Economic Development Surcharge. For every $1 collected monthly from non-residential customers, company stockholders match customer contributions dollar for dollar, generating about $750,000 each year to be reinvested in Eastern Kentucky.

Kentucky Power, with headquarters in Ashland, provides service to about 168,000 customers in all or part of 20 Eastern Kentucky counties, including Boyd, Breathitt, Carter, Clay, Elliott, Floyd, Greenup, Johnson, Knott, Lawrence, Leslie, Letcher, Lewis, Magoffin, Martin, Morgan, Owsley, Perry, Pike and Rowan.