Last updated: May 15. 2014 1:49PM - 669 Views

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FRANKFORT (AP) — A dispute over the price of electricity has led nine municipalities to notify Kentucky Utilities that they intend to seek other providers when their contracts expire.

The Courier-Journal reports the cities say in a letter that they believe moving to the open market could save money and lead to a more flexible contract.

The threats follow new contract demands KU made last year that would raise rates and fees and extend commitments from five years to 10.

Both sides continue to negotiate — another settlement discussion is set for May 29 — in hopes that an agreement can be reached before the current contracts expire in five years.

The municipal power providers who have threatened to break away include Frankfort, Barbourville, Bardwell, Berea, Corbin, Falmouth, Madisonville, Paris and Providence.

The cities argued in a filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that the requests are “patently unreasonable and anti-competitive.”

“There were multiple requests … we didn’t think were appropriate, and in amounts we didn’t think were appropriate,” said Berea Mayor Steven Connelly.

If the cities leave, it could force KU and sister company Louisville Gas and Electric to spread costs among remaining customers.

Company spokeswoman Chris Whelan said that could happen “long term down the road,” but it is also possible the utilities could find new customers to make up for any lost power contracts.

“We remain hopeful that we can come to a mutually acceptable resolution that would allow them to continue to receive their energy from KU,” the company said in a statement.

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