Mayor Abramson: If LG&E is for sale, the city wants it


by Adam Walser

Posted on March 2, 2010 at 5:05 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 2 at 7:30 PM

The rumors are flying that E.ON U.S. is trying to sell LG&E and Kentucky Utilities.

Tuesday, Mayor Abramson is stepping in, saying if it's true the city wants to buy the utility.

If the utilities end up on the market, which parent company E.ON would neither confirm nor deny, Mayor Abramson wants the city and/or state to look at the possibility of owning and operating them.

Whether that will be feasible is now the $6-billion dollar question.
When the mayor met with reporters Tuesday to discuss the possible sale of LG&E, it wasn't for the first time.

“It was six years ago this month that I became concerned about the future of Louisville Gas and Electric and KU,” he said.

That led to a study by engineers, lawyers, accountants and bankers and then a trip to Germany by Mayor Abramson and this announcement concerning LG&E and the city or state possibly buying it.

“Public ownership is both legally sound and financially feasible as an option to protect the jobs, headquarters and low rates,” Abramson said.

The rumors that LG&E would be sold then turned out not to be true.

But recent reports have indicated E.ON plans to divest from its American holdings to focus more on European operations, meaning the company may be for sale.

Duke Energy has been identified as a possible buyer, but the mayor says if the utility is, in fact for sale, he wants a seat at the table.

“We're putting a team together and we're dusting off the boxes and getting the information out. Then we've got to update everything.”

Abramson says the team will study whether a stand-alone utility operation not supported by taxpayers can work in today's economic environment.

He hopes to have some answers in a matter of weeks.

“If your question is do you still think you could do it today, which would be a legitimate question, the answer is, I don't really know,” Abramson said.

LG&E and KU have about 900,000 customers in Kentucky.