Electric rates may be increasing for many Kansas consumers. Why? To pay for a new coal-fired plant?
According to Notice of Public Hearings & Comment Period available at the Kansas Corporation Commission, the reasons Westar Energy cites as creating the need for a rate increase are repair costs from a recent ice storm, investments in new natural gas plants, and investments in wind energy.
It turns out that electricity generated by wind is expensive, even though the federal government pays producers $.015 for each kilowatt-hour of electricity generated by wind. (This payment, made through a tax credit, is set to expire at the end of this year unless the United States Congress extends it.)
In the Wichita Eagle article Residents bash Westar rate plan, we learn that people are angry over the proposed rate increase. Some are suffering a hardship with present rates. According to Rep. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, D-Wichita, presently running for the Kansas Senate, “When I’m (campaigning) door-to-door, people say they need help with the utilities.” A rate increase won’t help these people.
As our state, under the leadership of Governor Kathleen Sebelius, moves towards using even more wind power plus other expensive forms of energy, rates will have to increase further. At that time I would not be surprised to see programs put in place where taxpayers subsidize expensive energy costs for low-income households.