Archive for Saturday, February 10, 2001

Bill would sink utilities’ ‘golden parachutes’

February 10, 2001

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— A bill to keep consumers from paying for "golden parachutes" for utility executives is being considered by the House Utilities Committee.

Golden parachutes are generous compensation packages awarded to senior executives as they retire or leave.

"We don't think it's fair and we don't think it's reasonable," Walker Hendrix, consumer counsel of the Citizens' Utility Ratepayers Board, told the committee Friday.

The bill would require the Kansas Corporation Commission to review the pay of top executives and, if it is excessive, prohibit the companies from passing the cost to consumers.

Rep. Carl Krehbiel, R-Moundridge, who owns a small telephone company, said the state shouldn't meddle with what the companies pay.

"I think that's just plain ludicrous to be very blunt about it," Krehbiel said.

Golden parachutes are sometimes paid when utility companies merge, Hendrix said.

The committee also considered a proposal on Friday to place standards for reviewing mergers in law, rather than letting the KCC set its own guidelines. The proposal would require all mergers to benefit ratepayers and regulate what merger-related costs can be fairly passed on to consumers.

The committee did not vote on either proposal.

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