Westar is requesting a rate hike to make air cleaner

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) - Westar Energy filed a request with the Kansas Corporation Commission to adjust its prices by 1 percent or $17.4 million.

The request reflects the remaining costs of mandated environmental upgrades to comply with clean air regulations, life-extension improvements to Wolf Creek Nuclear Generating Station and investments to protect the grid against power outages.

The KCC will review the request with a resulting price adjustment anticipated in June 2017. The price adjustment for residential customers will be on average about $1.54 per month.

In 2011, the KCC authorized investing up to $1.23 billion in LaCygne Generation Station to meet clean air regulations. The plant is co-owned by Westar Energy and KCP&L, and the cost of upgrades is divided evenly between the companies. The final portion of these important upgrades is in today's request.

"We had a strong team that worked well together and provided great project management. As a result, the project will finish more than $75 million under budget," said John Bridson, Westar Energy senior vice president, generation. "This project has greatly improved air quality in Kansas."

The request also includes investments to begin modernizing targeted areas of the power grid. Westar initially proposed a five-year investment plan to begin updating some of the most critical, aging equipment. In the agreement, a $50 million demonstration pilot was approved. Projects included improvements to substations, replacing more than 2,500 power poles, installing about 1,500 communications modules to prevent and shorten power outages and rebuilding a Topeka circuit where inaccessibility to equipment and aging infrastructure has caused challenging reliability concerns.

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