The KCC held a public hearing on July 11 in Topeka on Westar Energy’s proposed rate increases on residential (8.77 percent) and small business (6.18 percent) customers to the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC). At the same time they are proposing to cut rates to medium general service (6 percent) and industrial (8.3 percent) customers. Not to mention the two ‘special contract customers’ that they are going to decrease by 15.1 percent. They didn’t list those companies in this and didn’t mention who they were until they were specifically asked that at the hearing.

My question is why these two? I doubt rather they’re the biggest customers for Westar. What kind of precedent is this setting? Why they being picked out as being two special contracts situations? it would be really interesting to look at who they’ve donated to in the last election cycle.

The feeling I had while we were sitting at that hearing was that it was just like sitting in the Kansas legislature this year. They’re just finding ways to sock it to the average consumer for the benefit of the corporations and wealthier.

At that meeting David Springe, counsel for the Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board (CURB), said “the question is what have we really done to your bill over the last few years and what are we going to do it them over the next few years because this is not going to stop.”

“These are big impacts, some of which are necessary. I don’t mean to tell you that all of these have been completely unnecessary. Westar’s doing a lot of things, the EPA is making a lot of requirements,” Springe said.

“But the question we have is, facing these types of increases and these types of challenges, what are we doing to actually try and help consumers. what are we doing? What choices is this commission and our legislator making to help soften the blow and lower the increases?” Westar Energy said in a press release the increases are “a result of EPA requirements to upgrade one of its power plants.”

They’re response to “Why is Westar asking residential customers to pay more?” (on their website): “Re-examining rates is necessary to make sure rates are fair and reflect the cost of providing service to each type of customer.

A class cost of service study shows that large commercial and industrial customers are paying more than it costs to serve them and residential and small commercial customers are not paying the full cost of their electric service. We believe that taking steps toward correcting cost differences will help Kansas remain competitive to neighboring states and over the long-term benefit from having strong companies with good paying jobs.”

Or, as Springe put it, “Westar claims residential and small business customers are not paying their fair share,” but that Westar used a different formula to calculate this than usual.

Rate increases have happened fast enough in recent history for the residents that utilize Westar and our bills have become more of a noticeable burden than they use to be in the past. they really have. I always felt blessed because we had really cheap rates and we can’t say that any more. What can you do? Contact your legislator and the KCC.

“Ultimately, there are legislative solutions to some of the things that we can do to stop these rate increases and to increase the public’s access to things that will help them with their bills,” Springe told WIBW. “The public has to be involved, I cannot do this by myself.”

KCC can be reached at 800- 662-0027 or public.affairs@kcc.ks.gov. A good resource (CURB): 785-271-3200. curb.kansas.gov.