Paducah, KY – A federal proposal to charge barge companies locking fees has regional industries calling foul. The fees would go to replenish a depleted trust fund that pays for modernizing locks and dams. Crounse Corporation Administration Vice President Michael Byers says the fee is unfair because barge systems that use lockless dams wouldn't have to pay. He says that's a negative for area residents, because they are the ones who will eventually pick up the extra fees.
"For example, we have a large amount of coal on the Ohio River that go into our barges and other company's barges that go through six, seven, eight locks before it gets to the power plant. We would then turn around and charge that fee to the utility and the utility would pass it on to the customers."
Crounse and other barge companies favor more fiscal management over the fee. Byers says all barge companies already pay into the trust fund through a diesel tax. He says that money is enough to keep the fund solvent and government should focus on more efficiently managing dam project funding.