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Kansas Utility Regulators Want Corporate Tax Cuts To Help Ratepayers

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Kansas News Service
The Kansas Corporation Commission on Thursday ordered corporate utilities such as Westar to pass tax cut savings on to customers

Westar Energy and Kansas City Power & Light say all the money coming from recently passed federal corporate tax cuts will land in their customers’ pockets. On Thursday, the agency that sets utility rates in Kansas insisted on it.

Westar Energy expects its tax bill to shrink by about $65 million a year under the new federal tax plan. Spokesperson Gina Penzig says several politicians asked if the utility would pass those savings along.

“We were glad to offer that confirmation,” she said.

But it’s ultimately up to the Kansas Corporation Commission to make sure the utility companies follow through.

On Thursday, the commission told all the utilities it regulates to set aside their tax savings. That money could turn into customer refunds. The KCC will also consider the savings when they set new rates for electricity, gas, and telephone services.

Combined, the two utility companies sell electricity to 1.5 million customers in Kansas. The ruling by the commission would apply to the vast majority of utility customers in the state.

An average Westar residential electrical customer would save about $3.50 a month, Penzig said.

Westar and KCP&L are expected to ask for rate increases in February.

Brian Grimmett, based at KMUW in Wichita, is a reporter for the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KMUW, Kansas Public Radio, KCUR and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. Follow him on Twitter @briangrimmett. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to kcur.org.

I seek to find and tell interesting stories about how our environment shapes and impacts us. Climate change is a growing threat to all Kansans, both urban and rural, and I want to inform people about what they can expect, how it will change their daily lives and the ways in which people, corporations and governments are working to adapt. I also seek to hold utility companies accountable for their policy and ratemaking decisions. Email me at grimmett@kmuw.org.
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