Westar Energy’s proposal would increase rates for homes and small businesses, but decrease rates for big businesses

July 9, 2013


— The public will have its say this week on a proposal by Westar Energy to increase rates on average residential customers by $7.50 per month while cutting rates for major industrial and commercial businesses.

The proposal would increase Westar's revenue by $31.7 million. It would raise residential bills by 8.8 percent and small businesses by 6.2 percent, while decreasing industrial bills by 8.4 percent and bills that public schools pay by 7.6 percent.

A public hearing on the proposal is set for 6 p.m. Thursday at the Kansas Corporation Commission, 1500 S.W. Arrowhead Road.

Westar says it needs the rate increase to meet EPA-required upgrades at the coal-burning La Cygne power plant.

And Westar says it needs to shift the rate-structure burden because big business customers are paying more than their fair share.

“Electricity provides great value, and we are looking to the commission to allow us tools that help keep it affordable as costs rise," said Mark Ruelle, president and chief executive officer of Westar. "First, we need to make sure rates are fair and reflect the cost of providing service to each type of customer."

The Citizens' Utility Ratepayer Board, which represents residential customers and small businesses, says the proposed increases are way out of line.

"Small-business owners, those people up and down Massachusetts Street, should be hopping mad," said David Springe, consumer counsel for CURB. "This is a big impact on the small mom and pop stores."

Since January 2009, Westar has received 18 increases for a total of $469 million.

The KCC hearing in Topeka will also be available via video conference at three more sites: Kansas State University-Salina, Pittsburg State University and Hutchinson Community College.

The KCC will accept written comments from the public through Sept. 23. Comments regarding the case should reference Docket No.13-WSEE-629-RTS and should be sent to the Kansas Corporation Commission Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, 1500 S.W. Arrowhead Road, Topeka, Kansas 66604-4027. Comments may also be submitted by email to

The KCC has until Dec. 2 to make a decision.

Springe urged consumers to submit written comment to the KCC if they are unable to make the meeting.


Carol Bowen 9 months, 1 week ago

Westar's presentation can be found at

If I read the presentations correctly, Westar did not really have a recognized rate structure. Nowhere, did I find the current rates, There were two structures considered - Peak and Average Usage and Class Cost of Service. The consultants recommended the Class Cost of Service.

Did anyone else notice the $33.9 million for environmental upgrades?


tanaumaga 9 months, 1 week ago

Will Westar then change the type of lights/bulbs used in city street lamps to make them more effecient?


Tony Kisner 9 months, 1 week ago

Fair? Funny word. Without the base load need from large commercial demand they would not need so many coal plants that need upgrades.


cheeseburger 9 months, 1 week ago

Do they always have to have the highest paid people? Do they always have to have the newest trucks? Must they always have a guaranteed return when others don't?

Do more with less like everyone else is having to do.


bad_dog 9 months, 1 week ago

It's a little hard to understand why Westar needs 18 rate increases in a 4-1/2 year period. Makes one wonder whether the utility is being run efficiently or it is merely greed driven; fueled and enabled by an unduly cooperative KCC..


In_God_we_trust 9 months, 1 week ago

Support financial research efforts into free energy and create a new industry. It would still cost to lease or buy a device in the future, but the energy used would be free. It would provide a real alternative to the electric companies.


arylwren 9 months, 1 week ago

I would support this only if we were all allowed to sit for a few hours in the lobby of a big business and enjoy the A/C while we charged our devices and used their wi-fi...


Number_1_Grandma 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Sounds like Koch Brothers work as the same theme....little guy pays for big business?!

Why can't big business pay for their own usage?

Why do the little people keep having to pay for business?

Boycott ANYTHING to do with Westar!


mongo55 9 months, 2 weeks ago

All part of Agenda 21 & ICLEI


oneeye_wilbur 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Another reason to move and another reason retirees are not coming.


James Nelson 9 months, 2 weeks ago

This sounds very much like the governor's office gave the idea to Westar. It fits perfectly with Sam's belief that precious business must be given every advantage under the sun. As far as consumers getting the shaft, they don't count to the governor or Koch. So be it. I predict Sam will have the class warfare he has always wanted. I pray that when he leaves there is enough left in Kansas to start the rebuilding process without sucking the last breath out of those still here.


onemansopinion 9 months, 2 weeks ago

When did Koch Industries buy WESTAR?


Pheps 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Acclimatize like the settlers in covered wagons had to. Save big money! No one is forcing you to use electricity.


stuart 9 months, 2 weeks ago

I would imagine there are many more residential customers than big business and nickel and diming residential customers, while giving relief to BIG BUSINESS will make more money for WESTAR in the long run and make WESTAR look like they are helping someone in the process. That someone would be themselves.


Currahee 9 months, 2 weeks ago

They're paying more than their fair share? Hey, with all those water subsidies maybe they should pay more for something for a change.

What's that smell? Just another .. SUB-SI-DY!


chzypoof1 9 months, 2 weeks ago

JUST WAIT....this is only the beginning. When the EPA/POTUS roll out their new Regs over will skyrocket. I found an old bill from 5 years ago for $120. Same house, now, $200. Sure, go ahead and raise it some more...thanks!


jack22 9 months, 2 weeks ago

It sounds like they're following the same plan that our city commission has established as of late. That is, they'll lower the rates/taxes charged to developers and other business interests, while they raise the taxes/fees on individual homeowners and renters to make up the difference.


Edward Coan 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Thanks for the tip Ron but you are asking me to rip off my fellow citizens who actually work for a living.


Ron Holzwarth 9 months, 2 weeks ago


Westar's net profit margin for Q1, Mar '13 was only 9.75%, compared with 12.49% for all of 2012. That compares very favorably with many other businesses. But, this decrease needs to be corrected with a rate increase, in the interests of the shareholders.

Definition of profit margin (noun):
The amount by which revenue from sales exceeds costs in a business.

Westar (WR) is an excellent stock to own because the company is distributed across several states, types of power generation, its customers usually have no other choice for their electricity needs, and it has been consistently very profitable for many years. I can't bring the page up at the moment, but I clearly recall reading that if you had invested $100,000 in WR only ten years ago, the sum of the dividends and the increase in the stock price would now add up to almost $400,000.

WR is an excellent stock to own, and as of today, the share price is $32.07. I highly recommend it.


parrothead8 9 months, 2 weeks ago

All the more reason to install some solar panels and generate some of our own electricity.


catfishturkeyhunter 9 months, 2 weeks ago

This is class warfare, nothing more, nothing less


irvan moore 9 months, 2 weeks ago

we got our westar bill today, $154.,


jafs 9 months, 2 weeks ago

I called the KCC and made my thoughts known, and also got some more information.

The rate increase requested is a sort of mish-mash of things that make sense that I support, and others that I don't support.

I encourage everybody who is concerned about this to do the same.


Richard Heckler 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Daily CEO Pay Now Exceeds U.S. Workers Annual Salary. And CEO’s sometimes do even better when they quit. What a rip off for consumers. We're looking at one aspect of why the cost living increases beyond reality. CEO's should work for a flat $750,000 a year or less. Consumers cannot afford CEO's , golden parachutes etc etc etc etc etc.

Take for example, James Mulva of ConocoPhillips. He was paid $140.8 million in 2011 but topped that in 2012 when he left the company after 10 years as CEO. Once he cashed out his stock options, took his retirement bonus and got his final paycheck, he collected a whopping $260 million in 2012.

Additionally “golden parachute” arrangements have had a negative impact on corporate performance, say experts. “If you have a safety net of this type of gargantuan size, it starts to undermine the CEO’s desire to build long-term value for shareholders,” Paul Hodgson, a director at corporate governance researcher at BHJ Partners, told Bloomberg. “You don’t really care if you’re fired or not.”

Way more to this nonsense.


bevy 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Come on guys, if they jack up our rates too much, we can just take our business mind!

Another fact missing from this story - what profits has this utility, which is essentially a monopoly, posted with all these rate increases the past 4 years? What are they using these profits to do? Other than buy politicians and pay their executives huge salaries?


fmrl 9 months, 2 weeks ago

KCC will rubber stamp this. They think legalized monopolies are entitled to 10% annual return on investment. CURB is inadequate to say the least.


Richard Heckler 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Cut the CEO's pay package by 75% to prevent further reckless spending

Remove the Golden Parachutes from the budget = stop spending recklessly

Remove all political campaign donations from the budget = stop spending recklessly

Cut all advertising $$$$$$ from the budget = stop spending recklessly

Cut all executive jets from the budget then sell off the jets

Cut BOD's salary packages by 75% !!!!!!

Quit taking politicians to dinner and drinks!!!

Do not sponsor any athletic events!!!!!

Now Westar is managing in a fiscal responsible manner thus eliminating the need for any rate increase.


Lane Signal 9 months, 2 weeks ago

This is Westar being smart about how to get a rate increase through the current Kansas legislature. The key to getting the rate increase is to appeal to the far right's wealth redistribution agenda. As long as Westar can ensure their policies are moving in the direction of the super rich having all the money and the poor having no money, they know they can get their rate hike. Westar also threw the far right a bone by saying the hike is needed because of federal rules designed to help the environment. I predict this increase will sail through. And others will learn from this.


Keith Richards 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Would love to see the rates that are payed by each type of customer. Without that information it is impossible to make a judgement on this.


Karl_Hungus 9 months, 2 weeks ago

This state is whacked...businesses no longer pay taxes and now this.....this song is very fitting for this state....


patkindle 9 months, 2 weeks ago

big guys won , little guys lost we are doomed get out your tin foil hats, Obama will ride to the rescue and save the downtrodden again


mdlund0 9 months, 2 weeks ago

What are the rates per kw-hr for each? Information vital to making a judgement...


mdlund0 9 months, 2 weeks ago

LJWorld: what are the rates per kW-hr that "big-business" and residential customers pay? Without knowing that, it is impossible to judge the assertions being made.


Richard Payton 9 months, 2 weeks ago

According to the Dow big business should be bringing in record profits. Why now stick it to the little guy and gals? Is this the shovel ready jobs promised? Digging are own grave.


kansas_cynic 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Apparently the Koch's and the C of C are now dictating rates to be charged customers as well.


grammaddy 9 months, 2 weeks ago

My bill goes up every summer already. I do not need another rate increase. Why is it that "big business" is always getting the break? Let the businesses deal with it. I don"t make a profit from my home, why should I have to foot the bill for theirs?


elliottaw 9 months, 2 weeks ago

If big business wants to lower their bills they need to find their own way to do that not go I to my pocket


jimmyjms 9 months, 2 weeks ago

"And Westar says it needs to shift the rate-structure burden because big business customers are paying more than their fair share."

How are they paying more than their fair share? Because you said so? Howsabout some detail there, Mark?

"First, we need to make sure rates are fair and reflect the cost of providing service to each type of customer."

Somehow, I'm doubting that parity is the real goal here.


Commenting has been disabled for this item.