Public Comment On Proposed Westar/Great Plains Energy Merger Overwhelmingly Negative

Apr 4, 2018

The public submitted more than 100 comments to Kansas regulators about the proposed merger of Great Plains Energy and Westar Energy. Almost all of them were negative.

Of the 104 comments submitted to the Kansas Corporation Commission, only four of them explicitly stated their support of the merger. But even those weren’t overly enthusiastic.

Edna Hamera of Mission Hills provided one of the supportive comments. It simply read, “I support this merger and am concerned with clean energy and protecting our environment.”

The comments came through email, phone calls and letters. The public comment period is a standard part of large cases before the KCC.

One major theme was the concern that a combined company would be too big to adequately address customer-service issues.

“The larger the company grows ... the less ... customer service,” Beth Hardin of Wichita wrote.

Andrea Fuhrman of Abilene added, “More powerful companies means more powerful behavior toward corporate needs rather than customer needs.”

Many other comments asked the commission to force the combined companies to focus on renewable energy.

But mostly people just complained that the rates are too high.

“I do not want Westar to be merged with that other company,” Scotty Rutkowski of Wichita wrote. “I want them to be sold because my bills are too high and they’re charging too much.”

Regulators are in the final stages of deciding whether or not to approve the merger. They have to make a decision before June 5.

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Brian Grimmett, based at KMUW in Wichita, is a reporter focusing on the environment and energy for the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KMUW, Kansas Public Radio, KCUR and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. Follow him on Twitter @briangrimmett. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to the original post.

 

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