Kansans will have a chance to weigh-in Tuesday on a proposed electricity rate increase from Westar Energy. The Kansas Corporation Commission, which regulates utilities, will hold a public hearing in Topeka.
The hearing is a chance for members of the public to ask questions and share their opinions on the proposal.
David Springe advocates on behalf of consumers with the Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board. He says public comments are an important part of the review process.
“The commissioners are, I think, very sensitive about keeping their hands on the pulse of the customers. I mean obviously two of our commissioners were former legislators so they’re usually very sensitive to customer concerns,” says Springe.
Westar says the $152 million increase would help pay for required environmental upgrades at a coal-fired power plant and costs associated with the Wolf Creek nuclear power plant.
The plan would raise electricity rates and calls for the majority of the money to be made from residential customers. It would also increase the fixed monthly fees paid by customers from $12 per month to $27 per month over the next five years.
Springe says raising the fixed monthly costs would mean bigger bills for customers who don’t use that much electricity.
“So that’s going to hit fixed-income people a little harder, it’s going to hit those who are very small users and, frankly, those who really work hard to conserve energy and be very frugal with the energy that they use,” says Springe.
The panel will decide if the increase should be approved or cut back to a smaller amount.
David Gernon contributed to this story.