Archive for Friday, September 5, 2008

More Westar rate hikes on horizon, consumer advocate warns

September 5, 2008


— Beware of your electric bill.

That's the message from the state's chief consumer advocate on utility issues.

Westar Energy is seeking a $178 million rate increase, but David Springe, consumer counsel for the Citizens' Utility Ratepayer Board, said more increases are to come.

"They'll be back," Springe said. "This is rate case No. 1."

Topeka-based Westar has more than 670,000 customers in Lawrence, eastern and southcentral Kansas.

The company is seeking a 15 percent rate increase, which comes out to about $10 more per month on the average residential bill. The proposal is before the Kansas Corporation Commission, which must rule by Jan. 23.

Westar says it needs the rate increase because it has invested more than $1.2 billion in new generation, transmission, facility upgrades and emission controls. Under the proposal, the rates would allow Westar to make a 10.95 percent shareholder profit.

But Springe notes that Westar has announced $3.2 billion in capital investments through 2010 as part of its comprehensive energy plan to improve the system. The company, he said, will be seeking compensation for those expenses.

The current rate proposal is a huge increase, Springe said, but added, "It's just going to get higher."

Westar says it has no current plans for filing another rate case, but warns that it is facing increased costs.

"We have been very upfront about cost increases, and like other businesses, as the costs go up over time, that may be reflected in our prices as approved by the Kansas Corporation Commission," said Erin La Row, a spokeswoman for Westar.


Rationalanimal 9 years, 6 months ago

How bout all that wind energy out in central Kansas? But, it is oh so renewable.

David Albertson 9 years, 6 months ago

This is inflation at work. This is what happens when the government spends more money than what is taken in. $10,000,000,000 per month in Iraq would be a good place to start reigning in spending. But that would make me unpatriotic and I probably hate my country for saying something like that.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 9 years, 6 months ago

It's also because they are paying all legal bills for those crooks they hired, and they expect us to pay for it. WRONG!!!! Thank you, Lynn

Curtis Lange 9 years, 6 months ago

9 more months and I'm done with Westar. Thank God too!

Bill Griffith 9 years, 6 months ago

Westar, should receive some compensation for this rate case as would any other utility bringing the same type of docket up before the commissioners. However, the commissioners will hopefully see that Westar shareholders need to accept a larger burden than the company desires to foist on them and that the customers of Westar should not have to bear the brunt of these expenses. Having the shareholders pay a large portion of the pollution upgrades may get Wetar thinking that coal plants are not the cat's meow that they have assumed. Yes, there will be another rate case in a year or two from Westar as well. It will probably involve transmission upgrades that are sorely needed. The key for customers is that the cost is shared over a large pool of users and not just Westar customers since the lines would be used by other utilities as well.

terrapin2 9 years, 6 months ago

You are way off the mark Lynn. Westar set aside money for legal fees for Wittig & Lake quite some time ago and that came out of shareholders pockets when they cut the dividend! How damn hard is it to understand that the KCC won't allow them to recoup money for the Wittig-Lake expenses?When the cost of most consumables goes up in our country it isn't too much of stretch to think that our electric & natural gas rates will go up too. For example, I'm sure Westar is paying a lot more in fuel costs these days to keep their utility trucks in service. And if you hadn't noticed KCP&L is now asking for a rate hike that would amount to an average increase of 16.2% for their customers!!! Even with that, Channel 9 News reported that KCP&L customers pay on average around 25-30% less than the national average! So quit your whining & crying!!!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 6 months ago

"Under the proposal, the rates would allow Westar to make a 10.95 percent shareholder profit."I'm sorry, but if a stockholder wants a guaranteed profit from a monopoly no utility user has an option but to use, this profit level is downright obscene. A 7 per cent return would be more than generous.

ForThePeople 9 years, 6 months ago

Well, in that case, my employer should give me a fifteen percent raise, since I'm making all these investments into my home to improve it. What a load of, how does Mariann put it..."biosolids"! Give me a freaking break. Westar, just as the school district, needs to learn to balance their budget to include inflation as well as updating. Don't spend the money....then expect your consumers to foot the f'ing bill!!!

compmd 9 years, 6 months ago

Westar is a company. If they choose to risk their money by buying stuff, that's their problem (and their shareholders), not ours. They can take the responsibility just like other companies do. Wuck Festar. My next residence is getting two wind turbines and a nice big battery.

KJones 9 years, 6 months ago

or this......"Westar Rate Increase RequestWestar has filed an application with the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) requesting a $177.6 million rate increase for Westar's retail electric customers. This request is an average increase of about 15%. Residential customers would have an average monthly increase of $9.62 in Westar's northern region and $10.34 in Westar's southern region, based on usage of 900 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity........The Commission will accept written comments from Westar's customers through September 15, 2008. Comments regarding the rate request 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, Kansas, 66604-4027. Comments may also be submitted by e-mail at or by calling 1-800-662-0027. Public comments received after the conclusion of the timely public comment period will be entered into the file in the docket."

guybeau 9 years, 6 months ago

Wait to see your bill when Wittig and Lake get away with their scheme. An additional $150 million each. Thanks Justice

Bill Griffith 9 years, 6 months ago

Bozo is on the mark with a lower rate of return for stockholders of a franchised utility such as Westar. Hopefully the commissioners will see it that way. Westar is starting with a high number with the expectation it will get sliced somewhat since they know how this process plays out. Remember to put in the docket number if you are writing to the commisioners or your letter will just go into the recycle bin. But also remember, electricity rates will go up just as other rates/prices go up-it is a cost of doing business. Make sure your home or business is as energy efficient as possible.

KEITHMILES05 9 years, 6 months ago

Remember now all you tree huggers......Westar must update its coal powered plants to make it "safe" for you to breathe and sleep better at night!

JSpizias 9 years, 6 months ago

Check the report below to see the cost of Sebelius and other "greenies" attacks on CO2 emissions and coal fired power plants coming home to roost. And this is only the beginning. Note also that "Changes in generation fuel costs are not included in this rate increase request for customers served in KCP&L's Kansas service territory and in the areas formerly served by Aquila.". That means a separate rate increase for fuel costs is also coming. You ain't seen nuthin yet! Yes, by all means let's get rid of coal and nuclear generation that currently produce 70% of our electricity. That is a really smart approach. The answer is blow'n in the wind. ""KCP&L files rate increase requests in Missouri and KansasSaturday, September 6, 2008Herald-TribuneFriday, KCP&L filed rate increase requests with the Missouri Public Service Commission and the Kansas Corporation Commission to increase base rates for electric service in all five of its service areas. The requests will raise a typical residential customer's rates approximately 16.2%, translating to a $12.27 monthly increase. The requests, which are subject to regulatory approval, would take effect in late summer of 2009. The two public utility subsidiaries of Great Plains Energy Incorporated (NYSE: GXP), KCP&L and Aquila, operate using the KCP&L brand name............The rate requests vary in each of KCP&L's service jurisdictions and include recovery for investments on environmental upgrades at KCP&L's Iatan 1 and Sibley power plants, Crossroads generation and transmission resources and energy efficiency programs made under KCP&L's Comprehensive Energy Plan. The requests also seek recovery of increased operating costs. Changes in generation fuel costs are not included in this rate increase request for customers served in KCP&L's Kansas service territory and in the areas formerly served by Aquila. For these customers, adjustments for increases and decreases in the cost of fuel will be determined in separate fuel cost proceedings........In 2005 we began a collective journey with customers and communities to form our Comprehensive Energy Plan with a goal of ensuring clean, affordable and reliable electricity for years to come," said Michael Chesser, Great Plains Energy Chairman and CEO. "Committing then to high-efficiency coal generation, wind power, energy efficiency and environmental upgrades was the right call. Those investments, many of which are now completed or nearing completion, address the challenges facing our industry and are helping provide our customers with greater control over their energy use, maintain our region's low-cost energy advantage and improve our environment."

Bill Griffith 9 years, 6 months ago

So Keith, are you saying that Westar should switch to renewables to displace the coal plants output?

KEITHMILES05 9 years, 6 months ago

It's funny how the majority who posted here feel "entitled" to cheap energy. It's time to pay up.

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