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Westar gets third rate hike this year

TOPEKA — The Kansas Corporation Commission on Friday approved a $33.7 million rate hike for Westar Energy customers statewide.

The latest rate increase is to pay for environmental upgrades to the company’s fossil-fuel powered plants.

The hike falls most squarely on customers in Westar’s northern division, formerly the KPL power system.

Northern customers receive much more of their power from the coal-fired Jeffrey Energy Center, where most of the environmental upgrades took place. Southern customers in the former KGE service territory get the bulk of their power from the cleaner Wolf Creek nuclear plant, with some coal and gas power added to the mix.

The rate increase should add about $2.95 — about 4.6 percent — to the bill of the average northern Kansas customer. 

The average southern customer will pay an extra 88 cents, about 1.2 percent, according to calculations by the Corporation Commission staff.

The increase is the third for Westar this year.

In January, the company got a $130 million a year increase in a regular rate case.

That was followed in March with an additional $32 million a year to pay for power transmission upgrades.

The company is expected to file soon for an additional $15 to $20 million a year for expenses related to the building of an Emporia power plant and increased wind power.