Gas rate-hike hearing resumes

FRANKFORT — A Public Service Commission hearing on a proposed settlement in a Columbia Gas of Kentucky rate case got under way Friday after Lexington's Urban County Council signed off on it Thursday night.

The council had earlier declined to schedule a vote on the issue but approved it without dissent after being lobbied by the Community Action Council and others.

Lexington's non-stance had threatened to derail the settlement worked out by the gas company and the state attorney general because the Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled that all parties to a case must agree to a settlement before the PSC can consider it.

PSC Vice Chairman James Gardner opened the hearing by clarifying earlier comments that some had interpreted as scolding Lexington for not approving the settlement.

"It was just wanting folks, if they're in the case, to take a position one way or the other," he said.

Under the settlement, the gas company would accept about half the $11.5 million increase it had asked for. It also agreed not to raise its basic monthly charge from $9.30 to $26.53 during the next two years.

A decision from the PSC is expected in a few weeks.