Westar

Kansas Public Radio

Westar Energy has asked for more than 20 rate increases in Kansas in the last five years. Their latest plan is attracting more attention than usual. It’s a significant increase for all customers and it adds a new charge for people with solar panels. Representatives of Westar and opponents of their plan gathered in Topeka this week for a hearing with state regulators. Stephen Koranda was there and has this report on the proposal.

    

The Kansas Corporation Commission will hold public hearings this week on a plan from Westar Energy to increase electricity rates. As Stephen Koranda reports, the hearings are a chance for Kansans to learn more about the increase and share their opinions on the plan.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission, flickr Creative Commons

Since 2009, Westar Energy has increased its rates 22 times. Over that same period, energy bills for residential users have increased 40 to 50 percent. KMUW’s Sean Sandefur takes a closer look at the company’s most recent rate increase proposal and how it could change the way some customers look at their energy consumption…

Earlier this week, Westar Energy filed a rate increase request that would bring in an additional $152 million a year. According to the company, the added revenue is needed to keep up with government regulations and to maintain its infrastructure.

Westar Energy is adding to its renewable energy portfolio through a new wind farm, while retiring two older natural gas plants in Wichita. KMUW's Deborah Shaar has the story.

Westar announced Tuesday that it plans to buy wind energy from a new wind farm going up in two western Kansas counties.

The Cedar Bluff wind farm is expected to be running by the end of 2015. It’ll provide Westar with 200 megawatts of electricity.

Recent Kansas Corporation Commission decisions on utility investments could save customers millions of dollars.

The KCC recently filed a complaint with federal authorities arguing Westar Energy is charging too much return on equity for its transmission projects.

Westar currently charges 11.3 percent. The KCC is arguing it should be 9.37 percent. The reduction could drop rates $15.8 million dollars annually.

The Kansas Corporation Commission has approved a plan that would allow Westar Energy to receive about $3.5 million dollars in revenue for making emissions improvements at the La Cygne power plant in eastern Kansas.

Westar also agreed not to ask for a rate increase until March.

About two-thirds of the company's customers are expected to see an increase of about 16 cents on their bills, but they will not pay more until October of 2015.

Westar Energy has agreed to delay a request for a rate increase related to nuclear power plant upgrades as part of an agreement approved by a state commission.

The Kansas Corporation Commission approved a plan Tuesday to allow an extra $3.5 million dollars for Westar Energy to make upgrades to the La Cygne power plant.

Westar Energy and Kansas City Power & Light own the plant together and need to make upgrades to comply with federal emissions rules.

The Kansas Corporation Commission filed a complaint against Westar Energy at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Wednesday. KMUW's Aileen LeBlanc reports.

According to a press release sent out by the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC), the complaint contends Westar is charging unjust and unreasonable electric transmission rates. If the complaint is granted, Westar’s current rates could be reduced by approximately $15.8 million annually. Based on anticipated utility growth, this figure is expected to approximately double over the next five years.

www.westarenergyblog.com

The Kansas Corporation Commission has approved Westar Energy's rate increase request to help pay for environmental projects. This means residential customers who use about 900 kilowatt hours will pay about 67 cents more per month, for a total of $3.49 of each bill dedicated to environmental projects.

Westar will collect about $58 million to cover its environmental costs. The company had requested $1.2 million more than it received. That's about $11 million more than the utility recovered last year.

The largest electric utility in Kansas has begun a $200,000 solar panel project in Lawrence.

Topeka-based Westar Energy is installing 160 solar panels at its maintenance facility and service center in southeast Lawrence.

The utility is also installing solar panels on buildings it owns in Manhattan and Shawnee.

Community members can also use the company's website to monitor how the solar panels are performing.

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