Evergy

Carla Eckels / KMUW/File photo

Gov. Laura Kelly signed a bill this week requiring utilities to take certain steps before the construction of electrical transmission lines in urban areas.

The legislation, which is specific to Wichita, followed outcry from residents here after Evergy installed large transmission poles in several neighborhoods in 2018.

Kansas Highway Patrol Air Support Unit

WICHITA, Kansas — Utility companies in Kansas will soon have a new accounting tool that could speed the closure of coal-fired power plants — and save customers money.

The financial tool is known as securitization. It’s not a new idea, but it is complex. The Kansas Legislature passed a bill approving the use of the tool after more than two years of discussion.

Gas furnace
Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

WICHITA, Kansas — Last February, the city of Cheney, Kansas – located just west of Wichita – paid about $2 per thousand cubic feet, or unit, of natural gas on the wholesale market.

But last week, during the height of the winter storm, it was paying more than $600 per unit.

“We didn’t have the option to just say, ‘We don’t want gas for our community,’” said Cheney City Administrator Danielle Young.  “We just had to take the price we were given to make sure our residents were staying warm.”

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

WICHITA, Kansas — Rolling electrical blackouts rippled across the Midwest Monday while the region shivered in an arctic blast and suddenly found itself short on electrical power.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

The electrification of cars and small trucks is on the horizon, but the state of Kansas is doing the bare minimum to be prepared.

A new state scorecard from the advocacy group the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranks the state 29th, with a score of 15.5 out of 100.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

WICHITA, Kansas — The state’s largest utility wants to charge customers with solar panels about $25 a month, even if their homes pull almost no electricity off the grid.

If courts and regulators reject that idea, power-provider Evergy’s backup proposal would charge all customers — not just those harvesting power on their roofs — a minimum of $35 a month just for plugging into its system.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

WICHITA, Kansas — The blow the coronavirus dealt to the Kansas economy left tens of thousands of people in the state struggling to pay their utility bills.

That puts them at risk of losing electricity or natural gas — and raises the prospect that better-off Kansans weathering price hikes to make up the difference.

Fletcher Powell / KMUW

Ten nonprofits will each receive a $10,000 grant from the Evergy Community Response Fund.

The grant will go toward closing gaps in services created by COVID-19 and promoting solutions to racial injustice.

The fund was created to award nonprofits serving zip codes 67208, 67214 and 67219, which cover parts of north and northeast Wichita. The Evergy Community Advisory Board, consisting of people from the area, looked over applications and awarded the grants.

The nonprofits receiving $10,000 each are:

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

WICHITA, Kansas — At the beginning of the year, independent consulting firm London Economics released a study of Kansas electric rates — how they’re developed, why they’re more expensive than neighboring states and some suggestions on how to change that.

Legislators seemed poised to act on some of the recommendations until the coronavirus struck and shortened their session by several weeks. Some consumer and environmental advocates say the abrupt stop cut the time and energy given to critical policy aimed at reducing your utility bills.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas — Curtis Sneden remembers what impatient investors did to Topeka-based Payless Shoes. Pressure for profits now and the bankruptcy that followed.

Now the president of the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce looks at regional utility giant Evergy and worries what might come of pressure from activist investment firm Elliott Management Corp.’s demands for a higher stock price.

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