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Approved: Evergy to recoup winter storm costs from Central, Metro customers

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Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 11:25 AM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Evergy Central customers will see a nearly $3 hike in monthly bills while Evergy Metro customers are set to see a $6.60 monthly credit after the KCC approved a settlement with Evergy to recoup costs incurred from the February 2021 severe storm which knocked power to most of the region offline.

The Kansas Corporation Commission says on Thursday, June 23, it approved a non-unanimous settlement agreement which allows Evergy to recover the extraordinary costs racked up during the Feb. 2021 winter storm from Kansas Central customers - formerly Westar - and credit Kansas Metro customers - formerly KCP&L).

KCC said the money will recoup the sale of excess power back to the Southwest Power Pool during the same time.

“During Winter Storm Uri, Evergy carefully managed fuel and power costs to help reduce the impact on our customers and kept our costs lower than utilities in neighboring states,” Evergy Spokesperson Gina Penzig said. “We’ve worked with the commission and other parties to reach an agreement that spreads the related costs for Evergy Kansas Central, which includes our customers in Topeka and much of eastern Kansas, over two years making it more manageable for customers.”

The Commission noted that the Central and Metro divisions are owned by the same parent company - Evergy - but operate separately.

Under the settlement agreement approved on Thursday, KCC said the average Central residential customer will see an increase of about $2.82 for two years starting in April 2023. It said the average Metro residential customer will see a $6.60 monthly credit for one year.

KCC said staff, the Citizens Utility Ratepayer Board, Evergy, and the Kansas Electric Power Cooperative supported the settlement. It said Kansas Industrial Consumers, the Natural Gas Transportation Customer Coalition and Coffeyville Resources Refining & Marketing, LLC, opposed the settlement.

The opposition claimed the settlement unjustly shifts the costs from residential customers to industrial customers and fails to reward conservation efforts.

However, the Commission said it rejected those arguments and found that within each customer class, some customers made efforts to conserve while others did not. Thus, it said there is no evidence that reallocation on a class-wide basis would only reward customers who curtailed their energy usage.

“The Commission reiterates the unique nature of Winter Storm Uri and the extraordinary costs it produced. As the Opponents of the Non-Unanimous Settlement acknowledge, Winter Storm Uri caused unprecedented financial harm throughout Kansas. Likewise, the evidence demonstrates that some customers in all rate classes conserved electricity and assisted in avoiding a system-wide failure like Texas experienced,” said the KCC. “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.”

KCC also noted that the orders states any proceeds received by Evergy from ongoing federal or state investigations into market manipulation, price gouging or civil suits will be passed on to customers subject to winter storm recovery charges.

To view Thursday’s full order, click HERE.

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