Despite pressure from some quarters, the Public Service Commission should hang tough in its efforts to bring transparency to the finances of a controversial water district in Pike County.
The PSC should not back down, even though lawmakers from both chambers and parties have been firing political shots over its bow.
The information being sought by the PSC, and also the Pike County Fiscal Court, about the Mountain Water District should be public.
Without it, there's no way to know if consumers are being charged fair and justifiable rates for water and sewers. Other utilities routinely share such information.
The lack of access to records hampered state auditors but they still turned up enough conflicts of interest, noncompetitive contracts and questionable fees to merit a much closer examination by the PSC.
The district is hiding its costs behind a well-connected private contractor, Utility Management Group, that insists it can withhold public records.
Legislators pushing a change in PSC membership also have connections to UMG. But their avowed reason for trying to change the way the PSC is chosen was outrage over a PSC-approved rate increase by American Electric Power in Eastern Kentucky. It was easy to discern another motive at work, however.
The Senate approved a bill that would elect PSC members rather than have them appointed by the governor. The House approved a study of electing the PSC.
Both versions died last week when the Senate brought an abrupt and unexpected end to the regular session. But a message was sent to the PSC, nonetheless.
If the legislature objects to the way utility rates are set, it has the authority to change rate-making rules.
Certainly, Kentucky has lagged behind other states in imposing deadlines and providing incentives for improving energy efficiency, the cheapest way to hold down costs.
Kentucky could also do a great deal more to weatherize homes, help consumers install energy-saving systems and improve substandard housing — if concern over heating costs is really what all this was about.