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Archive for Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Westar sale could mean rate increases

October 29, 2002

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— Consumer advocates caution that rate increases are possible if regulators approve the proposed sale of part of Westar Energy Inc.'s service area to Midwest Energy.

Midwest officials have promised no disruption of service and no increase in electrical rates for the 10,000 customers affected.

But Walker Hendrix, consumer counsel for the Citizens Utility Ratepayers Board in Topeka, said new Midwest customers should expect to pay more for electricity generated by the same provider Westar Energy.

"What I think you're going to find to be true, and what has been a pattern with Midwest, is yes, they'll buy that Westar territory by you and yes they'll maintain the rates for a while," Hendrix said. "But there will come a point in time when they file a rate case or make a decision where the rates will go up, more along the lines of the cost associated with those Midwest rates."

Westar wants to sell part of its service area that includes Ellsworth, Rice, Pratt, western Reno, Barton, Stafford, Edwards and Pawnee counties to Midwest. Officials have declined to disclose how much money is involved in the sale, which must be approved by the Kansas Corporation Commission.

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