July hearing set for Topekans to comment on proposed $14 Evergy increase

A hearing has been set for July for those in the Topeka area to make public comments and learn more about a proposed rate increase of more than $14 on monthly
Published: May. 21, 2023 at 1:27 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A hearing has been set for July for those in the Topeka area to make public comments and learn more about a proposed rate increase of more than $14 on monthly bills for Evergy customers.

“So this is the first time as Evergy that we have asked to increase our base rate. It’s our first-rate filing in 5 years. We have asked to recover cost investments in infrastructure to help serve customers we also are reflecting a lot of merger savings that have been accomplished over the past 5 years in this filing. The cost has to do with the cost to serve customers in each area and resolving some legacy Evergy Kansas central items that were brought in before the merger,” says Gina Penzig, Spokesperson for Evergy.

Evergy says the increase will cover infrastructure costs like poles and wires, power plants, and customer service systems.

The Kansas Corporation Commission announced on Friday, May 19, that it has scheduled three public hearings in July to allow customers of Evergy an opportunity to learn more about a recent rate increase request and to make comments before Commissioners. The application was filed on April 25 for an increase of $14.24 per month for Evergy Central customers and $3.47 for Metro customers.

KCC noted that Evergy Central includes Topeka, Lawrence, Olathe, Leavenworth, Atchison, Manhattan, Salina, Hutchinson, Emporia, Parsons, Wichita, Arkansas City, El Dorado, Newton, Fort Scott, Pittsburg and Independence. The Metro service area includes Lenexa, Overland Park and other towns in the Kansas City area.

But advocates like Kansans for Lower Electrical Rates say it’s too much.

“There are a lot of people in Kansas who are on a fixed income and a 10% increase for someone on a fixed income is a big amount,” says President of the Kansans for Lower Electrical Rates, Jim Zakoura.

The group says they want Evergy to smaller increases, or phase in higher rates over a longer period of time.

“We would like to see the rate increases more uniform across the systems and in the perhaps 2 to 3% range. There has to be a balancing. There has to be a moderation. The shareholders of Evergy cannot be thought of as higher than the users, than the residential, the business, the commercial users. All of the stakeholders have a vital interest in this and it will affect everyone there is no one that will be spared by a large increase,” says Zakoura.

Commissioners indicated that public meetings will be held in Topeka, Overland Park and Wichita:

  • Tuesday, July 11 at 6:00 p.m.
    • Washburn Institute of Technology, Main Conference Center, Building A 5724 SW Huntoon St., Topeka, KS
  • Thursday, July 13 at 6:00 p.m.
    • KU Edwards BEST Conference Center 12600 S. Quivira Rd., Overland Park, KS
  • Thursday, July 27 at 6:00 p.m.
    • Wichita State University, Low Auditorium Hughes Metropolitan Complex 5014 E 29th St. North, Wichita, KS

For those unable to attend in person, a virtual option via Zoom will be available for remote comment. Advance registration is required for Zoom and can be done HERE.

Commissioners will also accept written comments about the increase request through 5 p.m. on Sept. 29, 2023, which can be made HERE.