KFTC receives many disputed records from open records case with Public Service Commission | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

KFTC receives many disputed records from open records case with Public Service Commission

When anti-rooftop solar bill SB 100 passed the state legislature in 2019, members of the KFTC New Energy and Transition Committee feared that the Kentucky Public Service Commission might have been inappropriately collaborating or communicating with monopoly utilities–the very entities the PSC is meant to regulate. 

 To find out whether or not this was the case, KFTC submitted two open records requests to the KY Public Service Commission to determine if the Commission had communicated in inappropriate ways with legislators, utilities, or lobbyists about SB 100 or HB 227 (the failed 2018 version of the bill).

Both open records requests were denied by the PSC, citing exemptions to Kentucky’s open records law. These rejections prompted KFTC to appeal both decisions by the PSC to the Attorney General’s office, which ruled in KFTC’s favor on both cases. 

Months after the AG’s decisions, the PSC still has not entirely cooperated with the decisions of the AG’s office, which has the force of law. The Commission has instead filed legal complaints against KFTC, hoping that if our organization doesn’t answer the complaints in court, the AG’s decisions could be overturned. While these legal complaints still stand, the PSC has recently–although still several months after they should have–handed over the majority of the records in question. 

The documents the PSC has released to us tell us a lot about the relationship the PSC has with the lobbyists of the utilities they regulate. We know now that: 

  • PSC wrote a pro-SB 100 letter to House leadership directly in response to a request from a utility lobbyist. (A move that a member of the Energy and Environment Cabinet notes “helped [utilities] a lot") 
  • PSC was getting direct updates from and was in pretty close contact with the utility lobbyist, but was much less responsive to a solar industry lobbyist 
  • In 2019, the PSC worked directly with Representative DuPlessis to strip down his pro-solar amendment, in the event that SB 100 went to conference committee
  • Gov. Bevin's office specifically asked PSC to share their pro-SB 100 letter more broadly with the whole House of Representatives as the SB 100 vote approached, as a way to convince legislators to vote for SB 100

In short, these documents spell out a cozy relationship between utilities and their regulators–a relationship that seems to have accelerated the passage of anti-rooftop solar bill SB 100. 

A small handful of documents between the PSC and other governmental agencies on HB 227 remain unreleased, and KFTC leadership and solar allies are considering whether or not to meet the PSC in court over them. Stay tuned for more on this ongoing open records saga!