Westar customers question proposed rate hike

MANHATTAN (KSNT) – Next week state regulators will hold two public hearings on a proposed rate hike by Westar, some say will double the fixed residential customer bill by 2019.

A consumer watch-dog group held forums in Lawrence and Manhattan giving those concerned about the hikes information about the rate hike and explaining why it thinks the hike is too much.

Nearly two dozen residents of the Manhattan area making the time to learn why Westar is looking for the rate hike it wants state regulators to approve.

“We’re really here to help people understand how important their voice is in this process of what we call rate-making,” says Dorothy Barnett , Executive Director of Climate & Energy Project.

Westar is asking for a 7.9% rate hike effective for 600,000 customers. The company says that would increase your bill from $9 to $13 a month on the average customer. But the Climate and Energy Project says it would also increase fixed charges for residential customers from the current $12 a month to $27.

there is a better way to do that than raising the fixed charges for everyone,” says Barnett.

And they aren’t alone, a lot of these say the currents are already high. Others say increasing fixed utility fees takes away the consumer’s ability to control their bill by using more or less energy.

“I was very concerned about another rate increase, because we’ve had them repeatedly repeatedly,” says resident Cherri Harper.

Public hearing will be held next week in Topeka on July 21st and in Wichita on July 23rd. The KCC will be accepting comments through August 11th and then issue a determination on October 28th.

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