Kansas regulators expect merger to stabilize, possibly reduce Westar rates

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In a report prepared for the 2019 Kansas Legislature, the state agency tasked with regulating utility companies said it expects Westar Energy’s electric rates to be stable and might be reduced after the newly-completed merger with Kansas City Power and Light. The new company has already promised no base rate increases for the next several years.

The Kansas Corporation Commission released the study Monday to the Kansas Senate Utilities Committee as required after the merger between Westar and KCP&L last year. The KCC is also responding to calls by lawmakers and other politicians to investigate utility rates compared with other states in the region.

What the KCC found was that Westar had the fourth-largest overall rate increases among the 23 regional utilities surveyed between 2008 and 2018. The commission’s report said most of Westar’s rate increases (68 percent) can be attributed to increased federal regulations “environmental retrofits, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)-regulated transmission delivery charges (TDC), or fuel and purchased power increases.” 

Westar said the company has no issue with the KCC staff  findings.

But the report said that the newly-formed parent company is forecast to create about $800 million in savings that should bring price stability and “may lead to further rate reductions.”

Last year, the corporation commission reduced Westar’s rates by an average of $3.80 a month. In December, Westar issued credits the company said were the result of the merger. A report issued by the merged company called Evergy, published last year said some credits to customers will continue in February and March. The report also promised to “no base rate changes for the next five years.”

Westar’s report:

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