Residential consumers are facing an 8.77 percent, or $62 million, electrical rate hike. This is excessive.
Smaller businesses are facing a 6.28 percent, or $21.5 million, rate hike. This is also excessive.
This $83.5 million proposed increase is almost five times higher than overall inflation for Kansas consumers. And it is occurring at a time when the Kansas economy continues to struggle.
It’s also the 19th rate increase that Westar Energy has requested since 2009.
The fact that natural-gas power generation is now more feasible is a factor in the requested rate reduction of $30.3 million for a number of large electrical users. We suspect that this proposed decrease is tied to new co-generation options and the desire to preserve this customer base.
If Westar wishes to reduce its rates by $30.3 million for industrial users, special-contract customers, medium general-service customers or schools, that is its prerogative. However, just shifting these costs onto residential and small-business consumers should be stopped.
There is another important factor that must be considered. The state’s renewable portfolio standard requires that an increasing percentage of electrical power be generated by non-carbon or uranium-based energy sources. Whether the energy comes from solar, wind power or any other politically correct power, this mandate is forcing higher prices.
Here are some recommended steps that the Kansas Corporation Commission should enact concerning Westar’s rate case: