KCC approves settlement agreement to recover $10.8 million in winter storm costs

KCC approved a settlement agreement outlining how Liberty-Empire will recover $10.8 million in...
KCC approved a settlement agreement outlining how Liberty-Empire will recover $10.8 million in winter storm costs.(MGN ONLY)
Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 11:59 AM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansas Corporation Commission has approved a settlement agreement outlining how the Empire District Company d/b/a Liberty Utilities (Liberty-Empire) will recover $10.8 million in costs incurred during the February 2021 Winter Storm Uri.

KCC announced the utility was ordered to do everything possible to continue providing service to its customers, defer the charges and then develop a plan to allow customers to pay the unusually high costs over time to minimize the financial impact.

KCC indicated the settlement, which was negotiated by the KCC Staff, the Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board (CURB) and the company allows Liberty-Empire customers to pay for the costs associated with the winter event over a 13-year period from June 1, 2023 through May 21, 2036. On average, residential customer bills will increase by $5.73 per month during this period. This is a reduction from Liberty-Empire’s originally requested plan which would have resulted in an increase in the average residential bill of $7.32 per month.

According to KCC, the Commission emphasized it was in the public interest for Liberty-Empire to incur extraordinary costs to ensure the integrity of the electric system and provide continuous service to its customers.

KCC said the June 1 order states that any proceeds received by Liberty-Empire from ongoing federal or state investigations into market manipulation, price gouging or civil suits will be passed on to customers.

Staff at KCC noted in issuing the June 1 order, the Commission found the agreement was supported by substantial competent evidence, will result in just and reasonable rates and is in the public interest. The Commission’s order in this docket is the last of the Uri-related utility dockets to be filed and acted on.

The June 1 order is available HERE.

A recording of the June 1 Business Meeting featuring comments by Commissioners on this order is available on the KCC YouTube channel.