The president of Kansas Public Service, Lawrence's natural gas utility, said today that his company will try to convince the Kansas Corporation Commission that it needs more revenue than the KCC's staff recommends.
The regulatory agency's staff recommended that the 11.1 percent rate increase Kansas Public Service requested be cut nearly in half, to an increase of 6.2 percent.
Bill Salome, president of KPS, said his company disagrees with the KCC staff's figures, which were filed Tuesday, and plans to offer a formal rebuttal at the rate hearing before the KCC Oct. 24 and 25 in Topeka.
The KCC will conduct a local public hearing on the KPS request at 2 p.m. Oct. 18 in the city commission room at city hall, Sixth and Mass.
"Preparing to file a case like this, we've gone over a great number of figures," Salome said. "We feel the figures in our case are valid. We would hope to prove that we should be obtaining more revenue than what they recommended."
THE LAST revenue increase KPS had was in 1985, when the utility was regulated by the Lawrence City Commission. The rate case marks the first time KPS has appeared before the KCC since it came under KCC jurisdiction in 1986.
Although local monthly natural gas bills have risen several times since then, those rate increases were automatically approved by the KCC because of higher costs of purchasing gas from KPS suppliers, Salome said.
Salome was unwilling to say what KPS's request will mean to the monthly bills of the average residential or commercial customer. He said those rates will be set by the KCC.
"We don't know exactly where the rates would be set," he said. "In our rebuttal, we'll ask for some alterations of those revenues. We don't know where that's going to end up. We would know in about two weeks at the time of the open hearings in Topeka."
HOWEVER, the KCC staff said in its recommendation that KPS has asked permission to increase its monthly service charge for residential customers from $3.95 to $8 and that it wants to increase the charge for small business customers from $3.95 to $30.
The KCC staff said that KPS also has proposed significant increases in collection and reconnection charges and that the utility wants to implement new charges for initiating service and for temporarily disconnecting service.
The KCC staff recommended that the residential customer's monthly service charge be increased from $3.95 to $5, a 26.58 percent increase rather than the 102 percent increase requested by the company.
The KCC staff also recommends smaller increases in the cost customers pay for natural gas. Currently, a residential customer who uses 7,500 cubic feet of gas per month pays $33.02, including the service charge. Under the company's proposal, residential customers would pay $37.53 for the same amount of gas, an increase of 13.6 percent.
The staff recommendation trims that to $36.56, an increase of 10.6 percent.