Westar Energy

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

LINDSBORG, Kansas — The city-owned utility here wants to sell more electricity to the 3,500 people in town.

So it bought a $40,000 Tesla Model 3 sedan. It wants to show that getting around in an electric car can make sense.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

The way Westar Energy runs its coal plants in Kansas unnecessarily costs consumers millions of dollars a year through an obscure, if common, practice known as self-committing generation.

Flickr: MG Green creative commons

Solar panel users in Kansas continue to pay higher electricity bills as they wait for utility company Evergy to keep a promise made during this year’s legislative session to remove a recently added fee.

Evergy says it will follow through on the promise by the end of May. But state regulators ultimately hold the power to decide whether or not to approve the request to change some solar customers’ rates.

Carla Eckels / KMUW/File photo

Westar Energy says it will replace some of the large metal transmission poles installed in some Wichita neighborhoods following an outcry from residents and political leaders.

Carla Eckels / KMUW/File photo

Wichita City Council member Brandon Johnson wants Evergy to replace new metal electric poles in some neighborhoods with wooden ones.

Johnson represents District 1, where many of the transmission poles that top 100 feet were recently installed.

“To see 2.8 miles of neighborhood having these industrial poles … is just unheard of,” Johnson said.

Evergy is the electric company that now oversees the transmission poles. It was formed from a merger of Westar Energy of Topeka and Great Plains Energy of Kansas.

Flickr: Ian Muttoo

It’s not exactly unusual for customers to complain about their electricity bills. But repeated rate hikes over the past decade have made Westar Energy’s customers particularly mad. And last year’s merger with Kansas City Power and Light only served to keep the company’s finances — and its profit margin — in public view.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

Westar Energy is organizing several community meetings across the state to help people sign up for the Low Income Energy Assistance Program.

LIEAP is a federally funded program aimed at providing a one-time payment to people struggling to pay their utility bills.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

Companies have complained for years that electricity rates run higher in Kansas than in surrounding states.

That gives manufacturers and retailers in other states an edge, they say, and discourages businesses from moving to Kansas.

Now the Legislature wants to know what’s causing such a disparity.

Coal Power Plant - Lawrence Energy Center
Brian Grimmett

Wind is beginning to challenge coal’s status as the primary energy source for electricity produced in Kansas.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

One morning after the next, semi-trailer trucks get off Interstate 70 near Colby in west-central Kansas.

They haul parts of giant wind turbines in 150-foot-long sections, the pieces to the Solomon Forks wind farm and the next monumental phase of the Kansas bet on wind energy. The farm will plant 105 turbines in the prairie, each towering 250 feet high.

The project is one of a wave of wind farms under construction in Kansas that will add 20 percent more electrical generation to the state’s output.

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