Reviewing Westar Purchase Could Stress Budget Of Kansas Consumer Advocacy Agency

Aug 29, 2016

The Westar Energy building in Topeka.
Credit wikipedia.org

Great Plains Energy plans to buy Kansas-based Westar Energy in a deal that’s expected to close next year. Kansas regulators are starting the review of the $12 billion agreement. As Stephen Koranda reports, the size of the case could strain the budget of the agency that advocates on behalf of Kansas utility customers.

The Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board is a small agency funded by fees on utility bills. David Nickel, with CURB, says they’ll be studying the Westar purchase plan to see if it’s good for Kansas consumers.

“We’ll be interested to see what type of savings there will be in terms of rate costs. We’ll want to make sure that he communities of Topeka and other communities Westar serves are positively affected,” says Nickel.

CURB will need to submit testimony and make their case before state regulators and that will take paid outside help.

“It does have a substantial impact on our budget. It won’t eat up our entire budget,” Nickel says.

Nickel says the Westar case won’t leave them room in the budget if other unexpected utility cases come up. If that happens, CURB could be asking the Legislature for money to help cover the costs.