When Westar Energy and Kansas City Power and Light (KCP&L) asked for rate increases earlier this year, AARP Kansas pushed back on behalf of the nearly one million Kansas customers who would be impacted by higher electricity bills. AARP fought to protect their hard-earned money so they could afford to keep the lights on.
While rate increases were ultimately approved by the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC), both utility companies received much less than they had requested. Thousands of their customers wrote, e-mailed and attended public hearings to speak out about these unjustified rate hike proposals—and the KCC listened.
In September 2015, the KCC agreed to allow Westar a $78 million rate increase which is nearly half the $152 million it requested. While the residential customer charge increased from $12 to $14.50 per month instead of the eventua$27 per month Westar wanted to go to before the lights were even turned on! Also, Westar shareholders will see about a 9.3 percent profit, down from the 10 percent annual profit Westar had requested – another savings for cusotmers. Westar wanted to give customers three confusing and untested “options” in the way they are billed for electricity was rejected –including one that would have resulted in a $50 per month customer charge. Overall, Westar’s 700,000 customers will see their bills rise $5 to $7 per month instead of more than $15 per month. The increase will be effective October 28, 2015.
KCP&L didn’t fare much better. Also in September 2015, the KCC granted KCP&L a $48.6 million dollar increase in revenue, down from the $67.3 million the utility requested. The ruling includes an increase in the residential customer charge from $10.71 to $14 per month. The company had asked to increase this monthly fixed rate to $19. Like Westar, KCP&L was held to a 9.3 percent shareholder profit, one percent less than the 10.3 percent it had requested. Overall KCP&L’s 250,000 Kansas customers will pay $7.73 more for electricity each month instead of the $12 the company proposed. KCP&L’s rate increase was effective October 1, 2015.
Utility companies are learning that Kansas customers won’t take extreme rate hikes lying down. AARP will continue fighting for reasonable utility rates.