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.

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.

Kansas Corporation Commission approved a customer rate increase for Westar Energy customers Thursday, saying it was due to increased costs from EPA regulations.

Westar's application requested a $31.7 million dollar revenue increase.

Residential customers with an average monthly consumption of 900 kilowatt hours of electricity will see an average monthly increase of $3.00.

The new rates go into effect on December 1, 2013.

The increase is due to the actual capital improvement costs Westar incurred while meeting EPA regulations at its La Cygne power plant.

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.

Westar Proposed Rate Hike Under Review

Sep 26, 2013

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 Seeks Renewable Energy Bids

Aug 23, 2013

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.

Stephen Koranda

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.

The Kansas Corporation Commission is holding another public hearing on Westar Energy's request to boost rates for residential customers and cut rates for big commercial customers.

Residents can attend the hearing Thursday at 6 pm at the Kansas Corporation Commission office in Topeka.

If you can't make it to Topeka, you can also participate by video conference in several locations:

Westar Energy is asking to raise the rates on residential and small business customers and lower the rates for large businesses.

Homeowners or small businesses would pay 6 to 9 percent more under Westar Energy's latest plan. Big businesses that buy lots of power would pay 6 to 15 percent less.

Westar officials say industrial users and other large-volume customers are paying more than their share.