Black Hills Energy wants to withdraw a plan that would increase customers’ heating bills in return for providing energy efficiency programs.
The utility company submitted the plan to the Kansas Corporation Commission in March and the KCC was scheduled to hold a hearing on the application in September.
The request to withdraw comes after the KCC staff and the Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board gave unfavorable written testimony on the plan last month.
Black Hills is the second gas company in the state to submit an energy efficiency plan and then withdraw it. The other is Kansas Gas Service, which serves communities from Overland Park to Wichita.
“We need time to further assess the KCC staff, CURB and our customers’ sentiment toward energy efficiency plans in Kansas,” Black Hills spokesman Curt Floerchinger said. “We want to pursue some additional education opportunities and get some input on how a plan could be implemented.”
David Springe, consumer counsel for CURB, said he was surprised, but happy to see Black Hills withdraw its application.
“We didn’t like what they had proposed. It was very expensive and only benefited a few customers,” Springe said.
In July, Lawrence customers had the chance to comment on the proposal, which would have covered the cost of home energy audits, given rebates for energy-efficient appliances and provided incentives for builders to construct green homes.
Those programs came with a $12.5 million price tag. To cover that cost, the average residential customer would have had to pay $13 a year. Those who didn’t participate in the program could have seen their bills go up by as much as $26.
Besides the increase in rates, Black Hills had asked for other changes to its pricing structure.
The utility had wanted revenue decoupling, which would have required the KCC to set how much revenue the utility could generate and then have the utility collect that set amount from consumers.
The company also asked to be able to share in the savings generated by the energy efficiency programs.
In its testimony, KCC staff and CURB recommended that many of the utility’s proposed energy efficiency programs be modified or rejected.
The KCC staff also advised Black Hills to delay its request to decouple revenues until the utility’s next rate case and objected to Black Hills sharing in the savings from energy efficiency programs.
Black Hills will likely bring forward another plan during its next rate case, Floerchinger said.