If no news is good news, then customers of Westar Energy and KCP&L are experiencing good news six months after the two companies merged.
“We said from the very beginning that these were two local companies who have been right next to each other for 120 plus years,” said Chuck Caisley, Chief Customer Officer. “All that’s really happened is we’ve started to mix cultures and the employees and started to operate a little more efficiently. Everything else really remains the same. The opportunity here is to drive cost, to drive expense out of our operations.”
Those savings are being passed on to customers already.
“Customers in both Westar and KCP&L’s service territory in Kansas have received and will continue to receive credits on their bill related to the merger,” said Caisley. “Both companies also just completed rate cases where rates went down. For Westar customers, about $50 million is what the reduction was and for KCP&L customers, it was right around $10 million.”
The combined utility’s wind generation capacity is also working out well for its large industrial customers.
“In the beginning, and I’m talking about 10 years ago, when utilities started to add wind, mostly it was in response to state and government mandates to do so, and the wind wasn’t necessarily cost-effective when compared to coal or nuclear or natural gas generation,” said Caisley. “Today, it’s the cheapest source of generation we can get for customers, so everything we’ve added in the last four or five years flows directly back to benefit customers.”
The combined utility serves approximately 1.6 million customers in Kansas and Missouri.