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Multiple organizations ask the Kansas Legislature to address high electric rates

Joined together by a shared concern about dramatically escalating electricity rates, several consumer and business groups on Thursday asked the Kansas Legislature to take action to ensure electric rates in Kansas are competitive with surrounding states in the region. The group also asked the state’s electric utilities to immediately reduce rates 10 percent, and five percent each year until pricing is comparable to the surrounding region.

“Kansas has an energy problem,” said Jim Zakoura, president of the Kansas Industrial Consumers Group. “Kansas has the highest rates in the region. That’s not economically sustainable or good for the state.”

“We’ve tried our best to represent residential and small commercial consumers at the KCC, and CURB has been successful in helping keep utility rates much lower than those requested by Kansas utilities,” said David Nickel, Consumer Counsel at the Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board (CURB). “Nonetheless, Kansas energy prices remain high such that thoughtful, comprehensive legislative action would likely be very beneficial to our constituents. CURB supports and will help with that process.”

Electric rates in Kansas have increased 70 percent since 2007, making Kansas the most expensive state in the region.

High rates strain the pocketbooks of hardworking Kansas families, impact new businesses considering to locate in Kansas, and use the scarce funds of schools and hospitals and other community assets.

Last year, the Kansas Senate overwhelmingly approved Senate Concurrent Resolution 1612, calling on the Kansas Corporation Commission to “take all lawful action to reduce rates.” Unfortunately, the Kansas House did not act on the resolution.

In addition to requesting immediate rate reductions, the groups represented – including Kansas Industrial Consumers Group, Citizen’s Utility Ratepayer Board (CURB), Clean Energy Business Council, APS, and Kansans for Lower Electric Rates – are asking the Legislature to conduct a comprehensive study of electric rates to determine why Kansas rates are so much higher than neighboring states, and to outline possible solutions.

“A comprehensive study is the first step to address rates in Kansas. From there, it’s important we use the energy study as the basis for transparent and robust stakeholder engagement to create a state energy plan in order to ensure solutions that work for Kansas in the changing energy future”, Dorothy Barnett, Clean Energy Business Council. “This will enable us to capitalize on locally produced energy as a key resource and area of strategic importance to the state’s economy and economic development efforts.”

“While the Legislature studies this issue, we believe KCP&L, Westar and Empire District Electric should voluntarily reduce their rates 10 percent, and five percent each year after that,” added Zakoura. “That would help all Kansans, but would still make us more expensive than St. Louis, Des Moines, and Oklahoma City.”

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