Archive for Wednesday, March 30, 2005

KCC questions Aquila rate request

Staff wants increase cut from $6.2 million to $1.3 million

March 30, 2005


Aquila Inc.'s request for collecting another $6.2 million a year from its natural gas customers in Kansas should be cut back to $1.3 million, the Kansas Corporation Commission's staff said in a report filed Tuesday.

"That's all that is justified," said Rosemary Foreman, a commission spokeswoman.

Kansas City, Mo.-based Aquila filed its request in November, seeking state permission to bump up its monthly rates by an average 5.5 percent to its 104,000 customers in Kansas, including 32,000 in Lawrence.

Aquila indicated that the requested rates would add about $51 a year -- or $4.25 a month -- to the price a typical residential customer pays for gas service. The average business would pay another $108 per year.

The money would offset the utility's expenses for installing new lines, upgrading older ones and making other infrastructure changes to ensure quality service, a company spokesman said Tuesday.

"We feel that our filing represents the costs of the system improvements we've made, and we look forward to having the opportunity of going before the commission," spokesman George Minter said.

But commission staffers -- economists, engineers, accountants and others -- pored over Aquila's documents and found that the utility's request for an overall 5.5 percent rate increase didn't add up.

"This is good news for the consumer," Foreman said.

Commissioners have until June 29 to rule on the rate request. The new rates would take effect this fall.

Also Tuesday, commissioners received a request from a group that represents large consumers of Aquila gas service, seeking access to documents delivered to commissioners last month by Aquila officials. Commissioners intend to consider that request during a public hearing set for 9 a.m. April 5 in Topeka.

The Kansas Corporation Commission will conduct public hearings to review Aquila Inc.'s request for permission to charge Kansas customers more for natural gas service.The first hearing will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Dole Institute of Politics on Kansas University's west campus.Comments also may be e-mailed to public.affairs@ Comments should refer to docket No. 05-AQLG-367-RTS.

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