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Energy and Environment

More Than 80 Residents Blast Westar's Proposed Rate Hikes

Stephen Koranda

State regulators took public comments last night on a proposed Westar Energy rate increase.

Westar is asking to raise rates by 2 percent and to shift more electricity costs from large customers to residential users and small businesses. The company said the cost shift is necessary because larger business customers are paying more than their fair share.

About 80 people showed up in Topeka for the hearing, and many of them lined up to blast the proposal.

Kansas residents who could not attend the Topeka hearing left their comments at satellite centers in Salina, Pittsburg, and Hutchinson.

Sarah Fine from Topeka told the commission that a utility bill increase, even a small one, would hurt people on fixed incomes like her. She says she’s a renter and can’t do very much to lower utility bills.

“I don’t have the opportunity to do any energy efficiency in a 60-year-old apartment. The windows are there, I know they need replaced. I can’t do a thing about it.”

Westar officials said they’re proposing a new low-income assistance program to help people struggling with their bills. The Kansas Corporation Commission will take testimony on the proposed increase through September. They’ll probably make a decision in December.

There's more information on how to submit comments or written testimony on the KCC website.