KCC announces approved settlement agreement in Evergy rate case

The Kansas Corporation Commission approved a settlement agreement in the Evergy rate case.
Published: Nov. 21, 2023 at 11:31 AM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Kansas Corporation Commission approved a settlement agreement in the Evergy rate case.

The Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) said on Tuesday morning, Nov. 21, the unanimous agreement, resolving all issues in the case, was submitted to the Commission on Sept. 29, following negotiations between KCC staff, Evergy, the Citizens Utility Ratepayer Board and a variety of groups representing commercial, educational and environmental interests.

Evergy officials said the decision concludes Evergy’s first rate request in five years and solidifies unanimous agreement between parties to the case reached in September. The decision concludes a rate review process that began in April with a settlement announced in September.

“This now-approved settlement is a strong result for our Kansas customers,” said David Campbell, Evergy’s president and chief executive officer. “Today’s approval means our Kansas customers’ average rates will have increased just 1 percent in the last five years – well below inflation and electric rate increases in neighboring states over the same time period. This decision also allows Evergy to recover investments made to strengthen the electric grid and provide reliable, affordable, and sustainable service to our customers across the region.”

KCC officials indicated in its application, Evergy sought a net revenue increase of $204 million, or a 9.77% increase, for Evergy Kansas Central, which was formerly Westar and includes Topeka, Pittsburg, Wichita, Hutchinson and other communities in the eastern third of the state. In addition, Evergy sought a net revenue increase of $14 million, or an increase of 1.95%, for Evergy Kansas Metro, which was formerly KCP&L, and includes Lenexa, Overland Park, LaCynge, Ottawa, and other communites near the Kansas City metro area. Under the approved settlement agreement, Evergy Kansas Central will receive a net revenue increase of $74 million, or 3.54% increase, and Evergy Kansas Metro will receive a net revenue decrease of $32.9 million, which is a 4.53% decrease.

KCC officials said the average monthly impact to residential customers will be an increase of $4.64 per month for Evergy Kansas Central customers and a decrease of $6.07 per month for Evergy Metro customers. The new rate will take effect based on customer billing cycle date beginning Dec. 21, 2023.

“The Commission finds the agreed-upon rates will provide Evergy sufficient revenue to meet its financial obligations and provide safe and reliable service at just and reasonable rates to its customers. After considering all of the terms of the Unanimous Settlement Agreement, the Commission finds it is in the public interest,” the order states.

In addition, KCC officials said the settlement agreement states that Evergy may file an abbreviated rate case within 12 months of the current order to update rates to include Panasonic related distribution investment, Wolf Creek Decommissioning Trust adjustment and investment in a new renewable generating resource to address 2024-2026 resource adequacy requirements supported by Evergy’s Integrated Resource Plan.

According to Evergy, all of the costs related to directly serving Panasonic are being paid for by Panasonic. If Evergy pursues an abbreviated rate case in 2024, it will be related to the acquisition of additional wind energy for Kansas customers. In the event that an abbreviated rate case occurs in 2024, Evergy officials do not anticipate anything in that case related to serving Panasonic.

According to the KCC, the Commission received comments from ratepayers at three public hearings held in July. In addition, the Commission also received 3,915 public comments through its Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection. The Commission noted the decision made on Nov. 21 was issued with due consideration of those comments.

KCC officials stated Commissioners also considered the extensive evidentiary record in the docket including testimony from 57 witnesses, approximately 1,000 data requests, the joint motion in support of the settlement agreement and related testimony filed by parties in the docket. Having reviewed the record as a whole, the Commission finds the settlement agreement is supported by substantial, competent evidence.

According to Evergy, by combining Westar and KCP&L to form Evergy five years ago, they have saved more than $1 billion in operating costs in the first five years since the merger. These savings have allowed the company to offset steep inflationary pressures in the broader economy while at the same time undertaking significant investments to enhance electrical system reliability.

KCC officials noted the order is available HERE.

KCC officials said a recording of the Business Meeting featuring comments by Commissioners is available on the KCC YouTube channel.