UtiliCorp United Inc., the parent company of Lawrence's natural gas utility, says its share of a settlement in a large antitrust action against suppliers would be $15 million over two years.
However, it's still unclear what size rebate or credit on their natural gas bills Lawrence customers will see, said Bill Salome, president of the local Kansas Public Service, which would share the $15 million with Missouri Public Service, another UtiliCorp company.
UtiliCorp was one of four utilities that joined a suit against several suppliers accusing them of conspiring to fix prices between 1979 and 1982.
A $432 million settlement was reached in the case.
The overcharges had been passed on to customers of the utilities and customers are expected to share in the settlement. Government regulators will determine whether the money should be passed in the form of cash payments or reduced gas prices or both.
WHEN THE lawsuit was filed, KPS had about 21,000 customers and MoPub about 28,000, said Roger Dick, manager of corporate communications for UtiliCorp United.
Dick said the percentage distribution to customers would probably be based on those figures.
"It goes to the Kansas Corporation Commission," he said. "We'll have a recommendation on the table. We will be seeking to recover some of the earnings we lost for some of the overcharges. We will argue we should be allowed to recover a portion of that for lost earnings. . . . But by far the largest piece of that will be going back to the customers."
Sam Van Leeuwen, a spokesman for the Kansas Corporation Commission, said the commission has asked the companies to file proposals by the end of the year.
"We'll know at that time how much Utilicorp is proposing that KPS customers get," Van Leeuwen said.
"WE WILL achieve a very substantial recovery for our Missouri and Kansas customers," Richard C. Green Jr., UtiliCorp chairman and president, said in a prepared statement Tuesday.
"In addition we will recoup our legal expenses and anticipate that our divisions also will be able to recover some portion of the earnings they lost. We are extremely pleased with this settlement."
The Missouri Public Service Commission will determine the procedures for refunding past overcharges to Missouri customers.
In 1985, Utilicorp joined with several other utilities, the states of Kansas and Missouri and a farm cooperative in the lawsuit against Amoco Production Co., Oxy USA Inc. and Williams Natural Gas Co.
The three defendants in the lawsuit were accused of creating a monopoly and fixing prices on gas they owned in large tracts of land in south and southwestern Wyoming.
Amoco and Oxy settled their part of the case on Sept. 25. Williams agreed to a settlement after seven days of trial. The case was dismissed Oct. 4 with none of the defendants admitting guilt.