Paducah, Kentucky’s public power system is facing a “mountain of debt” after over-investing in a coal mine and a new coal-fired power plant in southern Illinois.
“Now the western Kentucky city’s businesses and residents are paying a penalty in skyrocketing electricity rates and suffocating debt,” the Louisville Courier-Journal reports. “People really became outraged last fall, when some customers were hammered by surprise catch-up bills as high as $1,800.”
The Prairie State Energy Campus near Marissa, IL was supposed to “provide affordable, reliable electricity for decades,” Bruggers writes. Instead, “electricity rates surged to likely the highest in Kentucky, with residential bills in Paducah now about 60% higher than those of customers of the state’s four main investor-owned regulated utilities.”
Mayor Gayle Kaler calls the town’s predicament “probably the most serious problem for Paducah since the Great Flood” of the Ohio River in 1937. Some local business leaders “fear the utility’s electricity rates and current $555 million in long-term debt, which amounts to about $25,000 per customer, have become an albatross for economic development, depressing property values and making it difficult to attract new industries,” the Courier Journal notes. (h/t to Midwest Energy News for pointing us to this story)