Topeka Two members of the Kansas Corporation Commission on Thursday refused to disqualify themselves from Westar Energy's rate increase case.
Commissioners Thomas Wright and Michael Moffet said they had not been influenced by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius in the rate request.
Westar, the state's largest electric utility, has asked for a rate increase to develop wind-generated power. The proposal would increase the average residential bill from $2 to $2.50 per month, Westar says.
A consumer watchdog agency that is fighting part of that rate increase had asked Wright and Moffet to recuse themselves.
The recusal motion by the Citizens' Utility Ratepayer Board came after an internal Westar memo surfaced that stated Sebelius told utility executives that their companies would be "fully compensated" when seeking to recover costs for building more wind energy.
All three commissioners on the KCC have been appointed by Sebelius.
Commissioner Joseph Harkins has recused himself from the Westar case because he said he wanted to avoid the appearance of impropriety. Prior to being placed on the KCC in June, Harkins served as Sebelius' energy adviser.
But Commissioner Wright said, "CURB's concerns lack factual and evidentiary support."
Wright said while Sebelius has openly advocated for alternative energy, he has taken an oath to balance the interests of ratepayers and utilities.
"The governor sets the goals, but we set the rates," he said.
Wright and Moffet said they have never discussed with Sebelius nor Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson the subject of setting rates, cost recovery or taking specific action in any case.
Sebelius' office had earlier said the governor had done nothing to try to influence the KCC in the rate case, although she has praised Westar's proposal to increase wind energy.
CURB consumer counsel David Springe said he was glad Wright and Moffet made assurances that there was no improper influence.
"We are pleased that both commissioners provided those affirmations on the record," Springe said.