Skip to content

PSC Begins Hearing Public Comments On KU Proposal

File Photo: Kentucky State Seal in the courtroom at Mercer County Fiscal Courthouse.

Robert Moore
Herald Staff

The Kentucky Public Service Commission heard public comments Monday night in Lexington on a proposal by Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities (KU) to retire four coal-fired electric generating units and three natural gas simple cycle combustion turbine units. KU’s proposal includes replacing the current aging generation systems with two natural gas combined cycle facilities, two solar facilities, one battery storage facility, and four solar power purchase agreements. If approved, the replacement generation would be online between 2026 and 2028, at a cost of $2.09 billion.

The PSC held the first of five public meetings on Monday, July 31, at Frederick Douglass High School in Lexington. PSC Executive Director Linda Bridwell, told the audience that the commissioners would not answer questions but all public comments would be documented.

“This is an opportunity for the public to offer their comments on the case,” Bridwell said. “We’re not here to answer questions about the proposal itself.”

She and the PSC staff attorneys directed the public’s attention to two statutes— KRS 278.020 and KRS 278.264—which will govern the commission’s decision. There will be four more public meetings before the PSC hearing on Tuesday, Aug. 22. That hearing is expected to take several days. The PSC will not issue their final order until Nov. 6, 2023.

Commenters were each given six minutes. The commenters, who were mainly from Lexington, objected to KU’s plan to build two new natural gas facilities.

Among the speakers was architect Richard Levine, a professor and co-director of the Center for Sustainable Cities at the University of Kentucky. Levine told the commissioners he had built the first zero energy house in Kentucky. He said he had also built five low-cost zero energy houses, which were getting money back from their utility company, and noted they were only getting that money because they were customers with the Tennessee Valley Authority. Levine called the plan to build natural gas facilities “anachronistic,” saying the natural gas plants would be obsolete by 2050.

“You’ll have to charge the rate-payers for the mistakes that are being made today,” Levine said. He said utilities are required to provide power for all possible circumstances, “peaks” which he called a 15 minute period when utilities have to buy electricity from other utilities, often at higher rates.

“There is no reason to do that,” Levine said. He noted batteries are “getting cheaper and cheaper all the time” while the prices of solar panels price continue to drop while capacity and quality continue to go up. Levine said solar and storage could reduce peaks in half. He asked the PSC to look to the experts and figure out other ways of moving ahead for Kentucky’s future.

David Cooper of Lexington stressed the importance of energy efficiency.

“When I look around Kentucky I see energy waste everywhere I look,” said Cooper, noting the energy waste of uninsulated homes and trailers. He said the focus should be on how to reduce the amount of electricity that’s used. He said the PSC and utilities could do a much better job explaining to people to eliminate space heaters. Cooper also noted climate change.

“We’re in a planetary emergency,” Cooper said. “You’re not going to find many people denying climate change.”

“I don’t believe in climate change,’ said Cathy McCoy, also of Lexington. McCoy said she was concerned about solar panels as a replacement, noting they mostly come from China.

“Needless to say we don’t need to give more money to China,” McCoy said. She said solar panels, which can receive cracks from hail storms, will need to be replaced in 25 years. McCoy said the panels are made of materials which can leach into the water system when buried.

“It seems we should be using the resources we were provided by God,” McCoy said. If KU wants to replace their current energy generation technology, she said, “They should be willing to do so slowly.”

In February, the PSC granted the Mercer County Fiscal Court’s motion to intervene in KU’s plan to build a 120-megawatt solar array in Mercer County. While representatives from the other intervenors were present, no one from the fiscal court attended Monday’s meeting. The only one from Mercer County to speak was Toban Barlow of Harrodsburg, who spoke out against the proposed solar facility.

“I don’t want to see a solar field in Mercer County taking up valuable farm property,” Barlow said. “I don’t like to see people jumping on the boat of solar and wind power. Barlow asked the PSC do a hard look on solar fields that go dark.

Four more public informational meetings are planned in Louisville, Lexington, and Harlan and in Hopkins County are planned. Each will feature an information session followed by an opportunity for comments. A virtual meeting will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 15.

In-Person Meetings

• Thursday, Aug, 3, 5:30 p.m. at Harlan County Judge’s Office, 210 East Central Street No. 111, Harlan.

• Monday, Aug. 14, 5:30 p.m. Eastern/4:30 p.m. Central at Hopkins County Government Center, 56 North Main Street, Madisonville.

• Wednesday, Aug. 16, 5:30 p.m. at Louisville Free Public Library, Main Branch, 301 York Street, Community Room 202, Louisville.

Virtual Meeting
• Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023, 4:30 p.m. Directions to participate will be available online at to August 15.

Public Hearing
The PSC will hold a public hearing on the proposal on 9 a.m., Tuesday, Aug. 22, at 211 Sower Boulevard, Frankfort. The hearing will continue for several days, and there will be time available before the hearing begins for public comments. The hearing will be streamed live on the commission’s YouTube channel.

Comments can be submitted at any time at, emailed to, or by mail to P.O. Box 615, Frankfort, KY 40602-0615. All comments should include the commenter’s name, address and the case number.

Additional information can be found at

For great stories, check out this week’s edition of the Harrodsburg Herald. Click here to subscribe.

Leave a Comment