Public Service Commission approves sale of LG&E to polluting PPL

After months of deliberation and review, the Kentucky Public Service Commission has finally approved the sale of E-ON US (owner of Louisville Gas & Electric and sister company Kentucky Utilities) to Pennsylvania Power & Light (PPL) for $7.625 billion.

Here are the goods from a KPSC press release:

In an order issued today, the PSC accepted a settlement reached by all parties in the case. The PSC determined that PPL has the managerial, technical and financial ability to operate LG&E and KU and provide reasonable service. As is required, the PSC also found that the transaction is in the public interest subject to PPL’s acceptance of several additional commitments imposed by the PSC.

PPL and E.ON announced the proposed transfer of control on April 28, 2010. An application was filed with the PSC a month later.

The transaction is valued at about $7.625 billion. E.ON US will become a subsidiary of PPL, with LG&E and KU remaining as distinct operating entities.

A number of other entities intervened in the case, representing customers ranging from large industrial facilities to low-income residents. They included the Kentucky Office of Attorney General, Kentucky Industrial Utility Customers Inc., The Kroger Co., the Kentucky School Boards Association, Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, Big Rivers Electric Corp., the Association of Community Ministries, Local 2100 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, The Metropolitan Housing Coalition Inc. and the Community Action Council for Lexington-Fayette, Bourbon, Harrison and Nicholas counties.

This is the third time in just over a decade that LG&E and KU have changed ownership. The British company Powergen acquired the two utilities in May 2000. In August 2001, the PSC approved their transfer to E.ON as part of the German company’s acquisition of Powergen. LG&E had purchased KU in 1998.

The PSC conducted a public hearing on the proposed settlement on Sept. 8. The hearing included a public comment period.

The sale comes in the wake of Tuesday’s EPA hearing concerning the dangers of coal ash, a substance that LG&E’s new corporate overlord PPL is all too familiar with: On August 23, 2005, a PPL coal ash pond in Martins Creek, Pa., ruptured and inundated the surrounding area and the Delaware River with over 100 million gallons of viscous, life-killing ash-soup.

The damage was so bad, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental protection sued PPL:

HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 18 /PRNewswire/ — The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection today filed suit against PPL Generation LLC and PPL Martins Creek LLC for the Aug. 23 spill of more than 100 million gallons of contaminated water and fly ash into the Delaware River from the utility’s Martins Creek power plant in Lower Mount Bethel Township, Northampton County.

DEP filed a complaint asking Commonwealth Court to enter judgment against PPL for damages to Pennsylvania’s natural resources. The suit cites violations of the Solid Waste Management, Air Pollution Control, Dam Safety and Encroachments, and Hazardous Sites Cleanup acts, as well as the Clean Streams Law and violations of residual waste, dam safety and waterway management regulations.

“This was a major incident that had a serious effect on our environment,” Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty said. “This legal action ensures PPL continues to take all necessary cleanup measures, strengthens the commonwealth’s standing to collect penalties and preserves the state’s rights to recover damage claims resulting from the incident.”

DEP responded to a large spill from one of PPL’s ash settling basins at its Martins Creek power plant Aug. 23. Wooden stop logs that hold back water in the basin breached and allowed a discharge of fly ash slurry to move from the basin over land to Oughoughton Creek, and then to the Delaware River. The flow did not stop until Aug. 27.

A plume of ash was visible as far downriver as Easton.

PPL brought in contractors to remove the fly ash from nearby roads, fields and the stream. Additionally, the company began to sample private wells in the area in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Significant deposits of ash remain in the Delaware River.

So we welcome our new coal-fired utility barons with open arms and, obviously, a freshly minted haz-mat suit.

UPDATE: Oh, and speaking of haz-mats, a coal ash pond ruptured near Willmington, North Carolina, just yesterday. If you’re still on the fence about how badly LG&E’s proposed new ash pond for southwest Jefferson County could fuck up life for those forced to live near it, peep this via the Sierra Club:

A toxic coal ash pond at Progress Energy’s Sutton Electric Plant near Wilmington, North Carolina breached recently, spilling toxic coal ash from the unlined storage pond. The Sutton breach, which is currently estimated to be eight feet deep and 22 feet wide, is a solemn reminder of the dangers that exist with the currently inadequate way toxic coal ash is stored.

This week’s Sutton breach comes as the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering whether to regulate toxic coal ash as the hazardous substance that it is. Coal ash, the byproduct left over after coal is burned, contains a long list of dangerous toxins, including arsenic, selenium, lead and mercury, which have been linked to organ disease, cancer, respiratory illness, neurological damage and developmental problems. Living near a coal ash site is significantly more dangerous than smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, according to a risk assessment done by EPA, and people living near unlined coal ash ponds can have a 1 in 50 risk of cancer. EPA recently concluded a series of public hearings to receive input on the proposed rule to regulate toxic coal ash.

4 Comments

  1. Local Yocal
    Posted September 30, 2010 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Is LEO supposed to be a balanced news source? Meador never bothers to check facts or works to clearly present both sides. It’s whatever fits his own agenda. Where did he get his journalism degree? Or, does he even have one?

  2. jmeador
    Posted October 1, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Dear Local Yocal,

    (1) You misspelled “Yokel.”

    (2) If by “balance” you mean to say “objectivity,” then you’re referring to a myth that’s done more harm to journalism (and the world) than good.

    (3) Anonymity is a haven for cowardice.

    (4) Your mom taught me everything she knows about journalism, so take it up with her.

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