Archive for Wednesday, April 4, 2001

KCC won’t subpoena utility’s aircraft logs

Commission denies request by consumer’s group in Western rate case

April 4, 2001


— The Kansas Corporation Commission on Tuesday ruled that Western Resources' corporate jet records can remain confidential, for now.

The KCC order was in response to a move by a state consumer agency to get the jet logs and have them analyzed by an outside expert.

Walker Hendrix, head of the Citizens Utility Ratepayer Board, has said the expert analysis would help CURB make a recommendation on Western's request for a $151 million increase in electric rates.

Western is the parent company of KPL, which provides electric power in northern Kansas, and KGE, which supplies power in southern Kansas. The three-member KCC will determine whether Western gets a rate hike.

Hendrix has said he suspects Western officials are using the jets for nonutility business, and sticking ratepayers with the cost of operating the aircraft; it's an allegation that Western denies.

The KCC has allowed Hendrix to look at the jet records, but Western has maintained that he can't share that information with anyone else because the records are confidential.

Hendrix requested that the KCC challenge that confidentiality. In a unanimous ruling, the KCC declined.

The KCC stated that parties in a rate case are allowed to claim confidentiality of data and documents in preparation for the rate hearings.

Those assertions of confidentiality can be challenged later during the hearing, the order said. Public hearings begin next week; a technical hearing is scheduled May 17.

"For the time being, the confidential status must be respected by all parties," the order said.

The KCC also rejected a request from Hendrix to subpoena the records.

Western spokeswoman Kim Gronniger said the company was pleased with the KCC decision.

Hendrix said the order will make it more difficult for his agency to evaluate Western's records.

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