Kansas Regulators to Consider Westar Rate Increase Compromise Next Week

Aug 14, 2015

Kansas regulators will consider a compromise that would allow Westar Energy to increase rates for electricity customers by $78 million. That would mean $5 to $7 more a month for most customers. The Kansas Corporation Commission will consider the compromise during hearings starting Monday. Commissioners will decide whether to adopt it or craft their own plan.

The proposal drops the rate increase requested by Westar from $150 million to $78 million. Gina Penzig is a spokesperson for Westar.
 
“With every agreement like this, everyone is going to sacrifice some things that they would have liked to have had and they’re going to be able to keep some things that they think are important,” says Penzig.
 
Penzig says the smaller rate increase will pay for required power plant upgrades, but won’t allow for as much updating of the electric grid as they had initially wanted.

The plan takes the issue of solar panels off the table, for now. Advocates for solar energy complained that the initial proposals would have hurt customers who install solar panels.

Westar had also proposed doubling the monthly service fee paid by all customers over several years. David Springe advocates on behalf of consumers with the Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board. He says the agreement includes a much smaller increase in monthly fees.
 
“So, for Westar to really walk away from that, take this argument completely off the table for three or four years is, I think, a very huge benefit for customers in general,” says Springe.

Springe says it would be rare for state regulators to reject a compromise that all sides have agreed to.