KANSAS CITY, Mo. - At a public meeting on a proposed Kansas City Power & Light rate increase Tuesday night, customers learned that it’s more a matter of how much of an increase will be approved rather than if one will be approved at all.
KCP&L officials said the 12.9 percent proposed rate increase would cost the average customer $0.41 more a day, which equals to about $150 a year.
The decision on the increase is ultimately up to the Kansas Corporation Commission.
Around 150 people turned up for the meeting, the first half of which was standing room only. Customers expressed their frustration that they don't have a choice on which utility to use or how much they are charged.
"When you start adding another dollar, two dollars, three dollars a room just for electricity, I'm sorry, that's more than nickel and diming our customers," said KCP&L customer Bob Hite.
Colleen Street agreed.
"Anyone that would have nerve enough to ask for that kind of an increase in a utility, you don't have a clue about what's going on out here with us people trying to live," she said.
But KCP&L officials said they need the increase to help pay for state and federal mandates to invest in renewable energy.
The company claims it has already reduced its workforce, decreased the number of executives and reduced their compensation to save money.
David Springe, a member of the Citizens' Utility Ratepayer Board, said customers should expect an increase.
"I want to be very, very clear about this…your rates are going up,” he said. “It just is because of the man, because of mandates stuff and things that have to happen."
But Kansas resident Charles Schollenberger said, "quite simply, most Kansans can't afford such an extreme rate hike."
Katie McDonald, director of communications for KCP&L, said she thought the meeting went well.
"I think tonight was a good night because we were able to hear the concerns of customers that will all be taken into account as we move forward with the rest of the rate case," she said.
Tuesday’s meeting was the only public hearing on the proposed increase. The commission will decide on the proposal in October.
If approved, the increase would start in January 2013.
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