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.
An agency that represents small utility customers is asking the state to reject Westar Energy's plan to allow some customers to prepay their bills.
The Citizen's Utility Ratepayer Board filed a motion Monday asking the Kansas Corporation Commission to dismiss Westar's application for the program.
Westar applied in October to allow about 1,000 customers to prepay their bills. The utility says it would allow customers to make smaller payments rather than pay a large bill at the end of the month. KCC deferred the application until May.
Westar Energy plans to purchase 200 megawatts of electricity from a northern Oklahoma wind farm expected to begin operating in late 2016.
The Topeka-based utility announced Wednesday that it had reached a purchase agreement with Virginia-based Apex Clean Energy.
Westar already has about 700 megawatts of electricity from renewable resources.
Apex plans to start building the 18,000-acre wind farm in 2015. The site is about six miles south of Arkansas City, Kan., where city manager Nickolaus Hernandez says the project is expected to boost the local economy.
Kansas regulators will review a proposal to let the state's largest electric company raise rates for residential customers by an average of $3 a month.
The Kansas Corporation Commission's hearing Thursday focuses on a settlement involving Westar Energy and representatives of its customers. The deal would let Westar boost overall rates by about $31 million annually, or less than 2 percent.
The company had proposed a slightly higher overall increase, mostly to pay for environmental upgrades at its La Cygne power plant in eastern Kansas.
Westar Energy Inc. is trying to expand its renewable energy portfolio.
The state's largest electric utility says it's accepting proposals from developers to add at least 80 megawatts of wind energy production, through September 13. Westar wants to enter into long-term contracts to help it meet state renewable energy requirements for 2016. The standard requires utilities to get 15 percent of their peak power through renewable sources.
Westar has almost 700 megawatts of renewable energy resources in Kansas, in addition to its coal and natural gas power plants.
A Kansas consumer advocate agency is saying that Westar Energy, Inc. can make necessary environmental improvements at its power plants with a smaller rate increase than it requested.
An attorney for the Citizens' Utility Ratepayer Board filed testimony with the Kansas Corporation Commission yesterday, saying Westar could reduce its rate increase request by $1 million and still accomplish its goals.
CURB also argues against Westar's plan to shift the burden of the increase away from large businesses to residential customers.
State regulators took public comments last night on a proposed Westar Energy rate increase.
Westar is asking to raise rates by 2 percent and to shift more electricity costs from large customers to residential users and small businesses. The company said the cost shift is necessary because larger business customers are paying more than their fair share.
About 80 people showed up in Topeka for the hearing, and many of them lined up to blast the proposal.