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Hearings to start on Westar’s request for rate increase

September 2, 2008

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Past Event
Public meeting on Westar Energy's proposed rate increase

  • When: Wednesday, September 3, 2008, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Kansas Corporation Commission, 1500 S.W. Arrowhead Road, Topeka
  • More on this event....

— Westar Energy customers who want to get their two cents in on the company's proposed $178 million electric rate increase will have the opportunity this evening.

The Kansas Corporation Commission will have a public hearing at 7 p.m. at its headquarters at 1500 SW Arrowhead Road.

The meeting will have two parts. During the first part, Westar officials will present the increase proposal and answer any questions from the public. During the second part, members of the public will be able to testify to the KCC about the request.

The proposed rate increase would raise average residential electric customer bills by about $10 per month.

Westar has said the proposed increase is based on investments the company has made in new natural gas plants, wind energy and the costs of restoring service after the December 2007 ice storm.

The company has stated it has spent $1.2 billion for new facilities, transmission lines and emission controls since its last rate increase in 2004.

But Sonny Scroggins, head of Bias Busters and an advocate for the poor, said Kansans already are overburdened with rising food and fuel costs.

"By allowing the increase, this adverse action could mean families having to choose between purchasing needed medication, putting food on the table or keeping the lights on," Scroggins said.

Scroggins said the KCC shouldn't grant more than half of the requested rate hike.

The KCC also will accept written comments from Westar customers through Sept. 15. Comments should reference Docket No. 08-WSEE-1041-RTS and be sent to the Kansas Corporation Commission, Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, 1500 SW Arrowhead Road, Topeka, KS 66604-4027. Comments also may be submitted by e-mail at public.affairs@kcc.ks.gov or by calling (800) 662-0027.

A decision in the rate case by the KCC must be made by Jan. 23, 2009.

Comments

terrapin2 6 years, 2 months ago

NO new nuclear power plants have been built in the U.S since the 1970's so it's not just Westar!!! And I don't think there is any better case for "Not in My Backyard" (NIMBY) resistance than there is for nuclear power plants. Who wants that potential risk in their city/county/state? And what congressperson (at least those wanting to be re-elected) would ask their constituents to allow big business to build a nuclear power plant in their backyard?Not to mention, what company wants the liability & cost of building a new NPP? Especially when the Feds can't even make up their mind deciding where to put all of the nuclear waste/spent rods that are now stored in ill-equipped facilities throughout the U.S. waiting for the Yucca Mountain facility to be opened. If it ever will open with all the controversy surrounding it. Plain & simple, nuclear power is NOT the best answer for our future energy needs! Wind, solar, and wave power should be the three leading options. When used in conjunction with one another these methods of power generation could easily meet our nation's electrical needs, and all while reducing CO2 output and other pollution!

jumpin_catfish 6 years, 2 months ago

Gas is up, food is up, why wouldn't we expect electricity to be up. I don't like it but my gas and food bill are up more than $10 bucks a month so I'll grin and bear it.

kerplunkr 6 years, 2 months ago

Three words: Nuclear Power Plants. Why isn't Westar trying to invest more money in nuclear energy? Can Kansas NOT have another nuclear plant besides Wolf Creek?Also, shouldn't the 2007 Ice Storm costs have been footed by the state government somewhat? An ice storm being a natural disaster and all I'd think the state would have more involvement. I'd much rather see a raise in my taxes than a kick in the gut from a private company.Maybe Westar could give KU a sizable donation for nuclear research. Shoot, if they'd pay for me to stay in school the rest of my life maybe I'd devote it to developing a plant that ran based on nuclear fusion. Ridiculous sounding I know, but what kind of business are you running when you ask the customer to pay for upgrades that you implement? It'd be like us having to pay extra money at ACE Hardware for a hammer when they added on to the lawn and garden section.Also, isn't there some state agency that can better evaluate our current power needs? Why have facilities to power 10 million people when you only have 2 million to provide power to? Oh well, enough rambling.

BigDog 6 years, 2 months ago

I hope many who take the time to blog on this site will also take the time to send in their comments or show up in person to these meetings and voice their opinions.I will be sending in comments but also forwarding the email address to as many people as possible to comment on the increase.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 2 months ago

Tax payers/rate payers might be better off to demand our electricty come from Bowersock so we can have local input. Citizens would get cleaner and more reasonably prices juice.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 2 months ago

$120 a year increase this year only. What about past years? So over the past 4-5 years our electric bills have increased about $600. Now another $120 this next cycle. How many experience an annual pay increase of 15%? Lucky if working people get a 2%-3% pay increase and have to beg for that.

mommy24 6 years, 2 months ago

It's crazy if people demand wind energy and natural gas plants--cleaner energy, but expect rates to stay the same. Westar, like any company, is not going to foot the bill, without trying to pass it on to the customers. I agree with you Catfish! I don't like it, but I sure like my electricity. And last time they tried to get a rate increase, it didn't pass and Westar still invested in 300 MW wind energy. If you want lower bills, use less electricity...

inatux 6 years, 2 months ago

Windlass,Then do something about it."The KCC also will accept written comments from Westar customers through Sept. 15. Comments should reference Docket No. 08-WSEE-1041-RTS and be sent to the Kansas Corporation Commission, Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, 1500 SW Arrowhead Road, Topeka, KS 66604-4027. Comments may also be submitted by e-mail at public.affairs@kcc.ks.gov or by calling 1-800-662-0027."

terrapin2 6 years, 2 months ago

Improvements in technology will increase the reliability of wind, solar, & wave power making them much more practical than they are currently. I just don't see any near-term options for fusion technology but when that day comes I will welcome it, albeit with a bit of skepticism. But as far as I'm concerned our conventional fission-powered nuclear reactors should be a dying breed. I don't want to hear another word about how we would have cleaner air with more nuclear power when the radioactive waste is polluting our soil and water!

Bill Griffith 6 years, 2 months ago

A couple of points on the issue of rate increases. First, any power company that is a state-regulated corporation makes rate increase or decrease requests on a fairly ongoing basis. Secondly, most things in life go up in price over time and electricity is no different. Westar's own filing and ok'd by the KCC staff, stated that an investment in wind power would cost less than a new coal plant. I will not comment on nuclear since it is so far out of the park Westar is not considering it under present circumstances. Westar is also making investments in energy efficiency and guess what? They cost money as well. But it is the cheapest form of new electricity and it will be a lower rate increase than other forms of power when Westar brings that request in front of the commissioners. EE is also our only hope for actually slowing down or stopping electricity growth and being faced with more rather than less rate increase requests from the investor-owned utilities. All this being said, the KCC does not have to grant everything that Westar asks for-the commissioners can grant a percentage of it or deny it altogether (which they will not do-nor should they in all fairness). As far as being affected by rate increaases, besides researching the rate increase request and possibly contacting the KCC, one can make their home or business as energy efficient as possible to soften rate increases. By the way, if one wants to see some high pucker factor rate increases, check out what KCPL is asking for because of the new coal plant up at Iatam.

Thinking_Out_Loud 6 years, 2 months ago

Do I really understand this? If energy rates, etc. go up, these boards light up with people crying that the City/County/State/Fed gov'ts need to "live within their means" even if it means cutting services. If energy rates go up, it's OK with posters for Westar to raise our rates rather than living within its means? What gives?

compmd 6 years, 2 months ago

The problem with this is that Westar wants us to pay for their experiments. It is well known fact that their wind energy venture is considered a trial to them. Westar is already the most outrageously expensive electric company I have seen in the midwest. Customers don't have a say in the company's actions; we don't get to decide what Westar blows its money on. However, we are more directly affected by their financial decisions than their shareholders are. We aren't supposed to be the ones assuming risk (losing money because Westar decides they should charge us more). Shareholders that invested in the company should have risk (share value decreasing because the company is mismanaged and abusive of its customers). I wish Westar would have been set straight when Wittig was smacked down.

kerplunkr 6 years, 2 months ago

terrapin2,I agree that nuclear power plants today cannot compare to wind, solar, and wave power - that being in terms of how much pollution is caused by nuclear power vs. the others. While the three sources of power you mentioned are practical enough, how much would it cost to run the country on those three sources and have it be a reliable power source? The news is full of the U.S. wanting to approve future plants that will be run on nuclear power. In fact at this point it seems that these new plants will be inevitable. Research needs to keep expanding in this area. If the power of nuclear fusion could be harnessed to produce energy that would power our homes pollution would NOT be an issue.

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