Archive for Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Local electric rates to increase 5.1 percent

December 28, 2005


— Residents of northeast Kansas, including Lawrence, will see a 5.1 percent increase in their monthly electric bills, while southern Kansans will see a cut of 4.8 percent under an order filed today by the Kansas Corporation Commission in Westar Energy's rate case.

Overall, the KCC action means Westar, the state's largest utility, will receive an annual increase of $3 million in rates, a far cry from its requested $84 million increase.

The three-member commission said in a prepared statement that the order "will allow Kansans and our state's economy to continue to benefit from a strong utility that efficiently generates electricity, encourages conservation and meets its environmental responsibilities, all at just and reasonable rates." (See the order.)

Northern region rates will increase $24.2 million. That region includes Lawrence, Atchison, Leavenworth, Olathe, Topeka, Emporia, Manhattan, Salina, Hutchinson and Parsons.

The average residential customer's bill in that region will increase approximately $3 per month, from $58.50 to $61.50, the KCC said.

For customers in the southern region, the average residential bill monthly bill will decrease approximately $3.47 from $72 to $68.53. That area includes Wichita, Arkansas City, El Dorado, Fort Scott, Independence, Newton and Pittsburg.

The commission's order brings the two regions rates closer together.

But those electric bills for all Westar customers could be even more because the KCC will now allow Westar to pass through its fuel costs on to consumers. on a monthly basis.

Westar, the state's largest electric company, said it needed an $84 million rate increase to offset financial problems from former chief executive David Wittig's tenure, and to improve services.

Wittig, who resigned in 2002, was convicted this year on charges that he and another former Westar executive looted the company.

The KCC, however, said it excluded costs from the rate request "associated with the misdeeds of prior Westar management."

The KCC also said its order gives Westar overall revenues close to existing rates. "These current revenues have enabled Westar to improve its balance sheet, attract investors, refinance debt, move toward investment grade credit ratings, and yet generate electricity at the cheapest rates in Kansas," the KCC said.


christie 12 years, 3 months ago

I don't get it. Why don't we all pay the same rate.

Why don't we make those clowns at Westar who ripped us all off pay the difference. Didn't they rip off Westar for some 80 million or so???

craigers 12 years, 3 months ago

Not as bad as the increase in gas prices from Aquilla. I guess we should count our blessings.

bill_priff 12 years, 3 months ago

The pass through provision is the killer. Damn. That is going to really hurt some folks.

glockenspiel 12 years, 3 months ago

Oh gosh, that Kansas Corporation Commission...not doing their job...corrupt commission, didn't even know my pilot lite had burned out...

And their ties to Saudi oil...

tolawdjk 12 years, 3 months ago

Well, coal prices shouldn't rise too drastically. I mean, it is energy, but its coal. The real killer on the pass through will be all the natural gas "peaking" stations, depending on the demand from them.

And with the rebalance of north vs south, they are basically saying that where you get your power doesn't matter. (Ie, Wolf Creek for the south, traditional power for the north) So the communities supplied by the peaking units will pass their costs onto places that are not supplied. Sure, sure, its all on the "grid".

What I would wonder about though...what happens this summer when Westar has capacity to spare? Do they make money, selling excess power capacity, but burning more fuel, thereby making more profit as fuel costs are passed onto the users of Kansas, even though they won't be the ones using the power generated. -That- is the thing I would me most pissed about. Charge me for what I use, but don't charge me for what "California" uses.

bige1030 12 years, 3 months ago

Yeah, the KCC needs to get their arses on the ball and demand that Wittig and Lake pay for what they have done!

kuladybug 12 years, 3 months ago

Because of Wittig and cronies, we have to pay more for electric? That doesn't seem right. It also doesn't seem right that Wittig sits courtside at the KU men's basketball games - right behind the press table! I can't believe he would want to show his face in public!!!

gr 12 years, 3 months ago

I think it was Westar jumping on the bandwagon with Aquila. It might have been another electric company. Aquila has something called weather normalization. What that means is, if there is a warm winter and people don't use as much gas, Aquila doesn't make as much. So, now, the following year they charge those customers extra to make up for lost profits. This is different from gas pressure rates. How would you like to have just moved to Lawrence and then end up paying for what they didn't make on last year's customers?

Now, I may be wrong, but I believe that is how it is. Then, I thought Westar was trying to do a similar thing with electricity - meaning air-conditioning in the summer.

Isn't a utility company a wonderful monopoly? You can charge any rates you want (just ask the KCC for an increase and they usually give one), if the gas / electricity prices go up there's no risk since you pass it on to the customer, directly pass on any city charges, add new line items to the bill each year and then advertise how you've kept their customer charge so low and have only their best interests in mind, and if you don't sell as much as you were counting on, you still get it the next year.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.