WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Starting next year, Evergy customers will start paying part of the cost of a winter storm from last year. Most residential customers in the KSN viewing area will see their monthly bill increase by $2.82 for two years, starting April of 2023.
However, some Evergy customers closer to Kansas City will get a monthly credit of $6.60 for a year.
The Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) approved the settlement agreement, but it was not unanimous.
The agreement allows Evergy to recover the costs of the February 2021 winter storm from its Kansas Central customers. Kansas Central customers are those who were formerly Westar customers. It is the area in green on the map.
The KCC agreement also allows Evergy to credit its Kansas Metro customers, those were were formerly KCP&L customers, for the sale of excess power back to the Southwest Power Pool during that same time. Kansas Metro is the area in deep blue, including Ottawa and Overland Park, on the map.
The Central and Metro divisions are owned by the same parent company, Energy, Inc., but operate separately.
KCC staff, the Citizens Utility Ratepayer Board (CURB), Evergy and the Kansas Electric Power Cooperative supported the settlement. Kansas Industrial Consumers, the Natural Gas Transportation Customer Coalition, and Coffeyville Resources Refining & Marketing, LLC opposed it, claiming it unjustly shifts costs from residential customers to industrial customers and fails to reward conservation efforts.
The KCC rejected those arguments, finding that within each customer class, some customers made efforts to conserve, while other customers did not. The KCC said that there is no evidence to suggest reallocation on a class-wide basis would only reward customers who curtailed their energy usage.
“The evidence before the commission suggests that, under the circumstances, the non-unanimous settlement represents the lowest interest rate and the lowest customer impact of all Kansas utilities for Winter Storm Uri related costs,” the KCC said in a news release.
State and federal investigations are looking into allegations of price gouging and market manipulation. The KCC order states that if Evergy gets any money back after those investigations, it must pass the proceeds on to its customers.