Newberry, Gray Both Oppose Water Rate Hike, Cite Different Reasons

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky Public Service Commission heard from Lexington residents and city leaders Wednesday night at a public meeting about Kentucky American Water's proposed 37-percent rate increase.

The utility says it needs the rate hike to pay for a 162 million dollar treatment plant and water pipeline project that is nearing completion in Owen County. Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry says Kentucky American should be allowed to recoup that investment, but gradually.

"I would submit to the commission that the proposed rate increase is just too much and we ask that you give consideration to substantially reducing the rate increase in order that the return on Kentucky American's investment can be much more appropriate and reasonable under the circumstances."

Vice Mayor Jim Gray, who is in a campaign battle with Newberry, says he didn't see a need for the pipeline, and says Kentucky American should swallow the cost.

"This 160 million dollar project was sold to us with the promise that it would be a regional solution, but no other cities or counties are co-investing or buying in. The burden of this rate increase will not be shared by others but instead is on the backs of every Lexington citizen."

The PSC will hold an evidentiary hearing next month to further consider Kentucky American's request.