A settlement just reached in Westar Energy’s latest rate case will raise residential customer bills $3 a month, according to the state consumer counsel’s office.
Westar, the Kansas Corporation Commission staff, the Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board and several other parties reached accord on a rate hike that will give Westar an addition $30.7 million a year, said David Springe, consumer counsel for CURB, the state agency that represents small business.
The settlement agreement drops a proposal by Westar to shift about $50 million of cost from its large industrial and commercial customers to residential and small-business ratepayers.
Westar applied for the rate increase primarily to pay for required environmental upgrades at the La Cygne power plant in eastern Kansas.
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If the commission approves the settlement, residential customers will get the biggest increase, $18 million. Small business will be No. 2 at $12.7 million, roughly a 3.5 percent increase overall.
In addition to the increases for small customers, medium business rates will go up $3.9 million; large industrial customers will pay $3.2 million; cities and other street lighting customers, $2.1 million and school districts, $500,000.
Only one company in the state will see a significant decrease. The Occidental Chemical plant in south Wichita will have its rates reduced by $9.7 million. Occidental is Westar’s largest customer and has a special contract with the company approved by the commission.
While the residential and small-business customers will pay the bulk of Westar’s rate increase, Springe said he signed off on it because other proposals could have been worse.
“We accepted $9.4 million more than what we thought we should pay, but eliminated the litigation risk of getting $50 million (increase),” Springe said.
For home customers, the increase will be in the form of a $3 increase in the set monthly service charge, from $9 to $12, Springe said.