Topeka customers weigh in on proposed Westar Energy rate increase

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It could cost you more to keep your house warm this winter.

Westar Energy is asking the Kansas Corporation Commission to approve an increase in rates.

The average resident could see an increase of about $7.50 a month – but that’s not all that’s bothering some customers.

At a public hearing in Topeka Thursday night, Westar Vice President Jeff Martin explained that this isn’t just a rate increase, it’s a rate shift as well.

Westar wants to raise rates to gain $32 million more a year for air-quality improvements at the coal-fired La Cygne power plant. Under the plan, rates would go up 6-9% for homes and small businesses and go down the same amount or more for large businesses.

Martin says this will even out the playing field.

“The residential, the small commercials, are paying less than their fair share, the industrials, the medium commercial, the large commercial, as well as schools were paying more than their fair share,” Martin says, “So what we’re trying to do here is balance out the rates and make it fair for everybody.”

About 40 Kansas residents in Topeka and through video conference, Salina, Pittsburg and Hutchinson, made public comments for the Commission to refer to as they make their decision.

“I think in our rush to make Kansas appear pro-business, we are making Kansas appear anti resident,” says customer Bill Wollin.

Westar is also proposing to offer certain discounts to business customers and start a low income assistance fund.

The Commission expects to make a decision by this December.

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