Winter Heating 2013-2014

"With the volatile energy prices, I encourage you and your family to be prepared for higher utility costs this winter. My office wants to help you control those costs such as winterizing your home or by conservation, especially during these harsh financial times."

 

Attorney General Jack Conway

 

The Attorney General's Office of Rate Intervention (ORI) serves as a watchdog for consumers in matters related to natural gas, water, sewer, electric and telephone service. Under Kentucky law, the Office is also responsible for representing the interests of Kentucky consumers before governmental rate-making agencies. Due to the price swings in our energy prices, this winter could be an expensive one. The following are ways to help cut costs:

Do your best to conserve:

  • Turn down your thermostat as much as you can and still remain comfortable (electronic thermostats that adjust the temperature in your home when it is not in use are available.)
  • Turn off lights and appliances when not in use. Consider shutting doors and vents to rooms when they are not in use.
  • Replace incandescent bulbs with fluorescent or LED bulbs. Understand and reduce as much phantom load as possible. Phantom load, also known as vampire power, is energy to which you are using but the use of which is not easily apparent. Electronic appliances which are switched off or on stand-by mode continue to use electricity. Consider unplugging the appliance or put it on a power strip or surge protector which can be turned off when not in use.
  • Consider performing an energy audit on your home. An energy audit helps you conserve and become more energy efficient. It can be done on your own or with the help of professionals. Some local utility companies provide the audits which include free energy saving items and, depending on financial qualifications, a home weatherization. For general information on energy audits, please visit EnergyStar.gov (888-782-7937).
  • Weatherize your home. There are many sources available to educate you on the ways in which you can do this yourself aside from a company performing an audit. Good sources of information can be obtained from the Department for Energy Development and Independence, 500 Mero Street, 12th Floor, Capital Plaza Tower, Frankfort, KY 40601, (502) 564-7192 or (800) 282-0868. You might also access energysavers.gov for other energy saving advice here. For general information on energy saving tips, please download this booklet from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Financial assistance

Financial assistance may be available through governmental agencies. Consumers experiencing hardship are encouraged to explore the possibility of getting financial help. For more information on available assistance, click on the following links:

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
275 E. Main St., 3E-I
Frankfort, KY 40621
(502) 564-3440
Community Action Kentucky
CAK LIHEAP Program
101 Burch Court
Frankfort, KY 40601
Tel: 502-875-5863
Toll free: 800-456-3452

If you are renovating or upgrading your home, check with your utility company to find out if you qualify for rebates if purchasing energy efficient appliances and, if so, from what sources. Before you buy, find out whether you can get rebate incentives by installing certain types of heating and air conditioning equipment. Also, under new federal legislation, your purchase may qualify for State and/or Federal tax incentives. The Department for Energy Development and Independence may be able to answer your questions regarding Kentucky income taxes, and this Energy Star site may be of some assistance regarding Federal Income Tax credits.

If you become aware you cannot pay your bill on time, get in touch with your utility early to work out a payment plan. In the event you are unable to reach an agreement with the company, the Public Service Commission may be able to help. However, it is important that you work on a payment plan before your utilities are cut off for nonpayment. In doing so, you avoid the disconnection fee as well as a reconnection fee which can add significant charges to your bill.

Public Service Commission
P.O. Box 615,
211 Sower Boulevard
Frankfort, Kentucky 40602-0615
800-772-4636

Participate in your utility's budget payment plan. It spreads most of the cost of winter heating (and summer cooling) over the entire year, which can help your planning. In most budget plans there will be one “true up” month in which you will be expected to pay any added amounts not paid under the plan in the last eleven months. Find out in what month the “true up” occurs and plan for a bill that month that may be much larger than your other budgeted payments.

Stay on top of changing energy costs. The Department for Energy Development and Independence has frequent updates which you may check from time to time.

Propane gas users

The Office of Rate Intervention and the State Fire Marshal's Office (State Fire Marshal, 101 Sea Hero Road, Suite 100, Frankfort, KY 40601 502-573-0382) have established a protocol for allowing propane (LPG) customers to secure propane when their supplier is unable to do so. Under KRS 234.190, only the owners of a tank are allowed to fill it. In most cases the tanks actually belong to propane companies and are leased to consumers. Although a customer can give notice to a supplier to terminate service, and KRS 234.190 (3) requires that the providing company remove the tank within 48 hours, this is problematic in the winter when the suppliers are focused on delivering product. However, now that there is a release available, the Fire Marshal can request the current supplier to allow other suppliers to deliver propane.

What is the Public Service Commission?

The Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) is the state agency that makes the decisions about what utility companies, other than those owned by cities, can charge. A utility which provides natural gas under the jurisdiction of the PSC does not make a profit on the natural gas you use; rather, the company makes its money on delivering the gas to you. Currently, the prices remain very volatile. While the PSC must approve any change in the price that a company may charge, it must allow the company to charge you what the company has to pay for the natural gas you use.

The Attorney General will continue to challenge utility companies to keep your rates low.