A Floyd County utility owner who was fined $107,000 by the Kentucky Public Service Commission this week plans to appeal the order.
The PSC fined Betsy Layne utilities B&H Gas and Johnson County Gas and their owner Bud Rife $107,500 for 34 violations of state laws and PSC orders on Monday, ordering Rife and his companies to pay the fines by Aug. 28.
The fines include $45,000 issued for violations related to nine loans totaling more than $1.7 million that Rife’s companies took out. The PSC reported that all but one of those loans were to Rife and/or his other companies.
The PSC also fined Rife and Johnson County Gas $62,500 for failing to file quarterly gas adjustments, as required, to reflect changes in the cost of gas, since 2013. The PSC reported that it appears the failure of these filings caused the company to overcharge customers.
On Tuesday, Attorney Joe Childers, representing Rife and his companies, issued a press release reporting that they plan to appeal the order.
Childers reports in the press release that Rife claims the gas bills paid by the customers of B&H and Johnson County Gas “are far less than the average monthly natural gas bills paid” by other residents in the state. He reported that average bills are about $41 for B&H customers and about $75 for Johnson County Gas customers in 2017.
“B&H has not had a rate increase in almost 30 years,” Rife was quoted as saying in the press release.
The statement included comments that Rife has provided in the past to the PSC.
“I have had to personally subsidize both B&H Gas and Johnson County Gas for many years in order to provide reliable natural gas service to the 573 customers served by my companies,” Rife was quoted as saying. “This is because of the artificially low rates approved by the Public Service Commission in the past.”
He reported that Johnson County Gas “was forced” to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2011 and B&H has not filed for bankruptcy because Rife has funded it with his own money.
He reported, however, that the fine could force both companies to file bankruptcy.
Childers plans to appeal the PSC orders in Franklin Circuit Court.