Archive for Friday, February 10, 2012

AARP asks consumers to contact KCC to oppose Westar rate hike

February 10, 2012


— As state regulators consider Westar Energy’s proposed rate increase, which would give shareholders a 10 percent profit, AARP Kansas is stepping up calls for people to oppose the decision.

“AARP understands that essential utility service cannot be provided at a loss,” said AARP Kansas Director Maren Turner.

“However, the rate of return on investment for utilities should be fair and reasonable, and not a dime more. There is simply no justification to award Westar stockholders excessive profits which will be coming out of the pockets of struggling Kansas families,” Turner said.

The staff of the Kansas Corporation Commission and Westar filed a proposed settlement agreement that would give Westar a $50 million rate increase. According to the agreement, $41 million of the $50 million, would be paid by Westar’s residential and small business customers.

The other $9 million would be paid by larger customers, such as Kroger, Walmart, Boeing, Spirit Aerosystems, Cargill Inc., Hawker Beechcraft, Coffeyville Refinery and Occidental Chemical, all of whom are supportive of the agreement or not opposing it.

Westar, the state’s largest electric utility with more than 650,000 customers, had initially requested a $91 million rate increase. The Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board said Westar should decrease rates by $11.6 million. CURB recommended a reduction in the shareholder profit to 8.85 percent, and removal of $13 million of management incentive and bonus compensation pay.

On Monday, the three-member KCC will start an evidentiary hearing on the rates.

Westar officials have argued for the increase to maintain a reliable system, expand a tree-trimming program to reduce the number of power failures caused by tree limbs falling on power lines, comply with environmental regulations and help Westar’s employee pension fund, which was hurt by stock market losses.

Gina Penzig, a spokeswoman for Westar, said, “The settlement is a balancing of interests and will allow us to continue to provide reliable service to our customers. We’re pleased that a compromise was reached that most parties could find agreeable.”

Even without the proposed increase, Westar is on track to have increased rates by $388 million from 2009 to the end of this year, said David Springe, consumer counsel for CURB. These increases included previously approved rate increases and pass-through charges to customers for additional transmission and environmental costs.

Under the proposed settlement, an average customer will see an increase of nearly $6 per month in the summer and nearly $4 per month in winter, Springe said.

To contact the KCC’s Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection about Westar’s rate increase e-mail When contacting the KCC about the Westar request, consumers should reference the case by using KCC Docket No.12-WSEE-112-RTS.


Jeff Zamrzla 6 years, 4 months ago

The free market people will see the CURB and AARP pressure as unwarranted. The market should regulate itself they will say. Do you really need electricity? If you are a true libertarian, the answer must be no, only consumption of items one can afford take precedence over want or need. Just like healthcare, having a cooled and heated house is an anarchists' idea of a handout if your on a fixed income and must choose between a livable house, food or healthcare.

Alceste 6 years, 4 months ago

This article is too late and hence darn dumb:

Public comments on the case are being accepted through Wednesday, February 8, 2012. The Westar rate increase hearing begins on Monday, February 13, 2012 at the KCC office in Topeka.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 6 years, 4 months ago

I sent an e-mail to the KCC. at: It came back rejected, no such address, unable to deliver. I took the time to write several paragraphs, and it really pisses me off that it did not go through. Whomever wrote the article should be sure the damn address is correct.

Alceste 6 years, 4 months ago">p> went through just fine for me maybe you had a slight typo you didn't see?

It's "OK" to keep sending in material. The KCC HAS prepared a report with the comments that were sent in by Feb. 8, 2012 and there were over 1,000 citizens protesting the rate hike with only a handful supporting it. Still, if you email or fax comments today, they will still be available to the KCC Commissioners to read.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 6 years, 4 months ago

I checked the KCC website, and the address given in the article is correct. I apologize to the writer of the article, I have no idea why it would not go through, but as the above writer says, I was too late anyway.

begin60 6 years, 4 months ago

Thank you for this important information, LJWorld. We consumers need to speak up for our rights.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 4 months ago

Instead of raising our rates how about they reduce CEO pay by 80%.

Reduce BOD pay by 80%

Cut off shareholders for the next two years

End all special interest campaign contributions.

Eliminate funding for the golden parachutes!!!

Flap Doodle 6 years, 4 months ago

"Cut off shareholders for the next two years" Punish people who have invested their money? Do you think you are the federal government or something?

Jayhawk1958 6 years, 4 months ago

But wouldn't it be socialism if the rate hike was opposed? :)

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