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Customer Advocates Upset As Utility Regulators Look At Changes

The Kansas Corporation Commission and an agency representing utility customers have been butting heads over comments made by a KCC commissioner.

The disagreement is over what the commissioner said about how the KCC decides rate increases for utility customers. In a recent filing, KCC Chair Mark Sievers endorsed a process that uses a formula to decide future rate increases.

The more common process is where advocates for utility customers and the utility make arguments before the KCC and then the KCC decides on the amount of the increase.

Sievers said the adversarial process leads to “unproductive litigation” and use of public money.

David Springe, with the Citizens Utility Ratepayer Board, says the current process gives utility customers a stronger voice.

"If you look at the amount of money that we've saved by litigating over years it far, far, far outweighs the cost of the actual litigation,” says Springe. “I mean, customers have been well served."

Springe is concerned the comments could be interpreted as a statement of Kansas policy. A staff member for the KCC said in a hearing last week that the comments just show what the commissioner was thinking about the process.

As the Kansas News Service news editor, I help our statewide team of reporters find the important issues and breaking news that impact people statewide. We refine our daily stories to illustrate the issues and events that affect the health, well-being and economic stability of the people of Kansas. Email me at skoranda@kcur.org.
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