Questions & Answers

Why are electric rates different for every utility?
Utility rates differ widely, not only between states, but between the other utilities in Kansas. Besides Evergy and Empire District Electric, there are 28 rural electric cooperatives and 118 municipal utilities in Kansas. Rates for each of those utilities vary because costs vary. Costs are influenced by several factors including generation sources, the mix of residential, commercial and industrial customers as well as load size and density. Some of the electric cooperatives in Kansas serve fewer than two customers per mile of line which means higher rates.
What do the critics want?
A coalition of utility critics recently called for an arbitrary 10 percent rate cut. It makes a good headline but not good policy. Utility rates are set to recover the costs of operation plus the cost of capital.  So slashing rates would need to be matched with cuts in expenses which could reduce reliability, safety, and customer service.

We all would like to have lower utility bills but the big business coalition is primarily interested in lowering their own utility costs. Unfortunately, if electric cooperatives are forced to give breaks to those customers–or allow them to choose another power supplier–rates will rise for the remaining homes, farms, and small businesses. The cost to operate a not-for-profit cooperative remains the same but it will get spread out over fewer customers.

Is hindsight 20/20?
The utility industry is complicated and evolving. Maintaining reliable service requires hundreds of decisions that are based on the current environment with an educated look at the future economy, fuel prices, labor availability, construction costs, anticipated customer growth, technology advancement, etc. Regulations must be complied with and doing so is expensive. It is easy to look back and be critical but a recent KCC report states that Kansas City Power and Light (KCP&L) and Westar Energy (now known as Evergy), have been managed well.
Does Kansas have an energy policy?
Not currently — but we could start with an in-depth review of the utility industry that looks beyond the cause of higher rates and explores possible solutions. The electric cooperatives are asking the Kansas Legislature to support a Task Force that brings all the affected parties to the table to explore our current energy picture and work toward a balanced energy policy for the future. It deserves a deliberate, respectful and stakeholder driven process that will take some time. It will be worth the investment though because we all have the same goal — for Kansas to continue to be a great place to work, play, raise a family and call our home.