Deep freeze to affect Kansas utility customers differently

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Much of Kansas will likely see higher electric bills as a result of February’s deep freeze, but utility customers in the Kansas City area could get refunds.

The difference has to do with how two different divisions of utility giant Evergy fared during the brutal cold, The Wichita Eagle <a href=”” target=”&mdash;blank”>reports</a>.

The company’s Kansas Central division had to spend an additional $100 million to buy power. Meanwhile, Evergy’s Metro Division that serves the Kansas City area was able to generate $60 million in extra revenue because it was able to generate surplus power and sell it to other utilities.

State regulations say both the extra costs Evergy’s Kansas unit incurred and the extra revenue the Metro unit generated must eventually be passed on to customers.

Company spokeswoman Gina Penzig said the differences have to do with the type of power plants in each division.

“The costs and credits related to the extreme cold event are a result of the differences in each area’s available mix of power plants and fuel requirements alongside having enough power to meet customers’ needs,” Penzig said in an e mail.

Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple said he was surprised the freeze would wind up costing one set of Evergy customers and benefiting another. He suggested the Legislature should consider requiring Evergy’s two divisions to merge.

The Kansas Corporation Commission plans to investigate the situation.