News in Brief

Published 9:56 am Thursday, January 4, 2018

Electric utility seeks to install 1 million new meters

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The state’s two largest electric utilities are planning to install 1.3 million upgraded meters in homes across the state.

A release from Louisville Gas and Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities says the two utilities would invest about $350 million in the three-year project. The new smart meters would improve service and give customers real-time data on their energy usage.

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LG&E and KU will ask the Kentucky Public Service Commission for approval to install the meters.

The meters allow utilities to better determine where outages are occurring and quickly diagnose the cause.

The utilities plan to offer an opt-out for customers who do not want the meters, but that option would come with a monthly cost.

Barr files for re-election in Ky.’s 6th district

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Barr has filed for re-election in Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District.

Barr filed papers with the Kentucky Secretary of State Thursday morning. He is seeking a fourth term in Congress representing a district that includes Lexington, Kentucky’s second-largest city.

The district had traditionally been a Democratic seat. But since 1979, it has flipped five times between the two major political parties, most recently when Barr ousted Democrat Ben Chandler in 2012.

Democrats have targeted the seat in their quest to win a majority in the House of Representatives. At least four Democrats say they are running. They include Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath, state Sen. Reggie Thomas and Geoff Young, a former state worker who has lost the election twice before.

Coroner IDs man, woman found dead at car fire scene

MCKEE, Ky. (AP) — Authorities say a car fire in Kentucky where two people were found dead and burned last week is still being investigated.

WYMT-TV quotes Jackson County Deputy Coroner Melvin Lakes in a Tuesday report as saying it could be a while before investigators determine what caused the deaths of 28-year-old Whitney Venable and 35-year-old Joey Marcum. Lakes and state police were called out to the scene Dec. 28.

Lakes says the bodies of the Sand Gap residents were discovered on a road in a remote area, and the fire was out when authorities arrived.

One body was found inside the vehicle while the other was outside. Both were burned beyond recognition.

State police are investigating and have not said whether foul play was involved in the deaths.

Electric cooperative fined $20K for safety violations

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky Public Service Commission has fined an electric distribution cooperative for eight safety violations that it says contributed to the death of a lineman.

A statement from the commission on Wednesday says Jackson Purchase Energy Corp. was assessed the maximum penalty of $2,500 for each violation. It says Jackson Purchase was ordered to pay a total of $20,000 within 30 days.

Lineman Josh Franklin was injured last January after making contact with a live power line he was working on. The 28-year-old died 10 days later in the hospital.

The commission said evidence from the scene indicated that employees assumed the line was not conducting electricity when they began repairs.

Based in Paducah, Jackson Purchase serves about 30,000 customers in six western Kentucky counties.

Yarmuth files for re-election to Congress

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The only Democrat in Kentucky’s congressional delegation has made it official that he’s running for re-election.

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth’s campaign says the Louisville Democrat filed his candidacy papers on Tuesday to run for another term.

Yarmuth represents Kentucky’s 3rd Congressional District. He was first elected in 2006 in a district that had been held by Republicans for a decade.

His priorities in Congress have included efforts to revamp campaign finance laws, combat gun violence, expand health care and veterans’ benefits and improve education.

He has handily won each of his re-election campaigns.

Louisville jail officials: Cold weather chilling facilities

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Jail officials in Louisville say the cold temperatures are hobbling the heating system, and many inmates are shivering in their cells.

Louisville Metro Department of Correction’s assistant director Steve Durham told WFPL-FM that the heating system is old, and parts of the jail are not getting much heat. Some areas of the building get close to 40 degrees in extreme cold. Durham says most of jail units are around 60 degrees.

He estimated about $300,000 has been invested in the aging system since 2016. Durham said one solution could be building a new jail.

Chris Poynter, a spokesperson for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, said a new jail is unlikely since it could cost around $300 million.

Council leader removed as lawyer in child sex abuse lawsuit

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky city council president has been disqualified as a plaintiff’s attorney in a child sex abuse lawsuit against the city and two former police officers.

News outlets report a judge issued an order Tuesday removing Louisville Metro Council President David Yates from the case, citing conflict of interest.

Co-counsel Tad Thomas will continue to represent the former member of the Louisville Metro Police Department’s Youth Explorers program in the lawsuit against the city and ex-police officers Kenneth Betts and Brandon Wood, who are accused of sexual abuse.

County Attorney Mike O’Connell had pushed for Yates’ removal, arguing that Yates could personally profit from any settlement paid out by the city.

Yates says he won’t appeal the ruling. He will continue to represent the other plaintiffs alleging sexual abuse in the program.

TVA asks customers to reduce power consumption during cold

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Valley Authority welcomed 2018 with a request to about 9 million customers to reduce their power consumption amid cold weather and high power demand.

News outlets across the authority’s 80,000-square-mile coverage area report that the power utility had asked customers to conserve energy use, predicting record high demand on Tuesday.

The authority posted on social media Tuesday that the average temperature across the Tennessee Valley at 8:30 a.m. EST was 9 degrees Fahrenheit (-12 Celsius), around 20 degrees below the average for the time of year. During Tuesday morning’s peak demand, power demand reached its highest level since 2015, at nearly 32,000 megawatts.

The utility canceled its conservation request after 1 p.m., as demands lowered, and said it managed to meet energy needs.

TVA services Tennessee and parts of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, North Carolina and Virginia.

Man rescued after stowing away on frigid Ohio River barge

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (AP) — Southern Indiana authorities say a man who stowed away on an Ohio River barge was rescued after nearly freezing to death in frigid weather.

New Albany Fire Chief Matt Juliot tells The News and Tribune the coal barge’s crew called 911 early Tuesday after finding the man hiding inside the vessel’s hold.

The department says the man, who’s reportedly homeless, was rescued on the department’s fire boat with the assistance of the Louisville Fire Department and the U.S. Coast Guard and treated for “extreme cold exposure.”

The temperature was zero degrees (minus 17 Celsius) with subzero wind chills at the time of the rescue.

Juliot says cold-weather rescues are rare for New Albany’s fire department because it normally doesn’t get so cold in the Ohio River city.

Beshear chooses former prosecutor to join AG’s staff

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s attorney general has chosen a former prosecutor to join his staff.

Attorney General Andy Beshear says he has selected former commonwealth’s attorney Tom Lockridge to serve as a resource officer focusing on the handling of DUI and impaired driving cases. Lockridge is a former commonwealth’s attorney for Garrard and Jessamine counties.

Lockridge will serve as the Attorney General’s Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor. In that role, he’ll be responsible for training county and commonwealth’s attorneys as well as law enforcement in the effective prosecution and handling of DUI and impaired driving cases.

The AG’s office says regional trainings have been offered in Lexington, Louisville, Bowling Green, Prestonsburg and Covington. Additional trainings through the AG’s Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor program will be offered in other parts of the state in 2018.