KCC Unanimously Approves Westar Rate Hike of $78 Million
Westar Energy’s residential customers in eastern and east-central Kansas will pay $5 to $7 a month extra on their electric bills starting in November, based on a $78 million net increase in rates approved unanimously by the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) on September 24.
As reported by Retail Energy Buyer, the revenue increase of about 5.3 percent was included in a settlement (Docket No. 15-WSEE-021-TAR) reached on August 12. The parties then awaited a go-ahead vote from the KCC.
The August settlement did not include an agreement on whether the utility could impose a small surcharge on owners of rooftop solar generation systems. That case has been split off into a separate proceeding in order to handle the rate proposal expeditiously.
Originally, Westar had requested $152 million, but that number was negotiated down when the utility agreed to slash its proposed grid enhancements from $200 million to $50 million through 2017.
The lion’s share of the increase will enable the utility to recover the costs of mandatory environmental retrofits at the La Cygne coal-fired generating station and modifications to extend the service life of the Wolf Creek nuclear plant.
“We’re really pleased with the settlement,” David Springe, chief consumer counsel for CURB, told the Wichita Eagle. “Rates were going to go up regardless. I think Westar was very reasonable and we’re happy we could get a settlement.”
Finally, the parties also agreed to increase the base charge to $14.50 for residential customers, whether or not they use solar energy, until the next full rate case, Springe told the news outlet.
A new KCC docket will be opened shortly on the highly controversial solar charges.
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