Westar Energy

Brian Grimmett/KMUW

Overnight temperatures have begun to dip near or below freezing. That can mean increased utility bills, and for many low-income families, increased financial pressure as they try to pay them.

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Another shareholder lawsuit is challenging the proposed merger of the parent company of Kansas City Power & Light Co. and Westar Energy Inc. in Topeka.

The $14 billion cash and stock deal, a so-called merger of equals, was announced in July. The merged company, to be called Monarch Energy Holding, would have about 1.6 million customers in Missouri and Kansas.

Regulators rejected an earlier proposed deal because they said the price was too high and required KCP&L’s parent to take on too much debt.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW

Westar Energy on Tuesday celebrated the completion of its new training site in Wichita where high school and technical school students can explore careers in the electrical industry.

Pratt Community College students showed off their climbing skills, going up and down practice electrical poles with special boots equipped with steel shanks.

Jewlissa Frickey / Westar Energy

Environmental regulations and commitments to address global warming are certainly not on terra firma. The Trump administration has vowed to ease emissions controls for power plants and to get coal miners back to work.

The Jeffrey Energy Center, in St. Mary’s, Kansas, near Topeka, is one such coal-fired power plant.

www.westarenergyblog.com

The CEO of Westar says the utility and Great Plains Energy will file their new merger plan with Kansas regulators later this month.

CEO Mark Ruelle says meetings will be scheduled later this year for a shareholder vote on the proposal.

Ruelle updated investors yesterday [Wednesday] on the second plan to combine the utilities. The Kansas Corporation Commission rejected a proposal in April for the $12.2 billion sale of Westar to Great Plains.

Ruelle says paperwork will be filed with state and federal entities by the end of August.

www.westarenergyblog.com

Kansas’ largest electric utility, Westar Energy, is proposing a merger with Great Plains Energy to create a new company worth about $14 billion.

The deal comes less than three months after a Kansas regulatory agency rejected the original plan to have Great Plains buy Westar.

The new company headquarters would be in Kansas City, Missouri. Westar’s presence and about 500 employees would remain in Topeka as one of two operating headquarters. The other will be in Kansas City, Mo.

The Kansas Corporation Commission won't allow Westar Energy and Great Plains Energy extra time to renegotiate a new merger.

After the commission in April rejected the proposed merger, the two companies filed a petition asking for extra time to revise the deal to meet commissioners' expectations.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the commission rejected the request Tuesday. The commission's staff has recommended the companies start an entirely new case for the merger.

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Kansas regulators have blocked the $12 billion purchase of Topeka-based Westar Energy by Great Plains Energy. Members of the Kansas Corporation Commission raised concerns that the purchase price was too high and there wouldn’t be enough efficiencies created to guarantee lower costs to customers.

The order from the commission called the proposal "too risky."

David Nickel is with the Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board, which represents consumers. He said the only testimony in favor of the merger came from the two companies.

AgriLife Today, flickr Creative Commons

As a result of changing regulations surrounding the drone industry, Westar Energy has expanded its use of the technology and is using drones commercially. 

In August of last year, the rules surrounding drone usage became less strict, allowing non-pilots to fly unmanned aircraft for commercial purposes, if they earn a certificate.

For Westar Energy, the largest electric utility provider in Kansas, that means the company can use drones to help make maps, inspect equipment and collect data.

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Westar Energy will be constructing a "community solar installation" in Reno County. The company says it's an opportunity for customers to participate in clean energy without rooftop construction.

Westar says that any customer can sign up for "shares" of the solar power installation through their current account.

Residential customers can sign up for 1 to 4 shares with a 5- to 20-year commitment. A 1 kW share will mean about 150-kilowatt hours, or about one-quarter of an average customer's use per month.

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