Kansans could face higher electric rates

Liberty Utilities-Empire District seeks hike
Kansans could face higher electric rates
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Liberty Utilities-Empire District is seeking a rate increase for its Kansas electric customers. It would be the first increase of customers base rate there since 2012. The following is a press release from the company.

JOPLIN, MO – December 19, 2018 – Liberty Utilities – Empire District announced today it has submitted a request to the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) for changes in rates for its Kansas electric customers. Liberty – Empire is seeking an incremental increase in annual revenues of approximately $2.5 million or 15%. This is the first increase in Liberty – Empire’s base rates for Kansas electric customers since January 1, 2012.

Since January 2012, Liberty – Empire has invested approximately $317 million in its generation fleet, largely related to its mandated environmental upgrades at its Asbury Power Plant and the construction of its Riverton 12 Combined Cycle unit. Liberty – Empire has also invested over $566 million in additional plant improvements and in its transmission and distribution system for increased reliability and distribution integrity. The Asbury Power Plant and Riverton Combined Cycle investments are currently being collected through the Asbury Environmental and Riverton Rider (AERR), which is displayed on electric bills of Kansas customers. As part of the case, this rider will be discontinued at the time new rates are effective, and the AERR will be rolled into base rates.

In the case, Liberty – Empire has also requested the continuation or approval of various riders to balance the interests of customers and shareholders through a more timely recovery of prudent investments and expenses. These riders help to ensure that as expenses fluctuate, the Company does not collect more or less than its authorized revenues. These riders would also result in savings by eliminating expenses that would be incurred from a formal rate case process. Furthermore, the case reflects the new, lower corporate federal income tax rate as signed into law through the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. If approved by the KCC, a residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours would see a monthly increase of about $19.99.

In making the announcement, Blake Mertens, Vice President of Electric Operations, stated, “These investments have been made to provide increased reliability, economic growth opportunity for the communities we serve, and to comply with mandated generation facility upgrades. Our customers expect safe, reliable energy. We continue to seek out ways to improve service to meet customer demand and comply with mandated regulations while managing costs. This request reflects our efforts to better serve our customers and ensures that we continue generating electricity while lowering emissions and protecting the environment.”

In the coming months, the KCC will perform an extensive audit of Liberty – Empire’s operations, hold public hearings, and conduct an evidentiary hearing. If approved, new rates will take effect at the conclusion of this process, typically in approximately eight months.

About Liberty Utilities
Liberty Utilities Co. owns and operates regulated water, wastewater, natural gas and electric transmission and distribution utilities in 12 states, delivering responsive and reliable essential services to nearly 780,000 customers across the United States. With a local approach to management, service and support, we deliver efficient, dependable services to meet the needs of our customers. Liberty Utilities provides a superior customer experience through walk-in customer centers, locally focused conservation and energy efficiency initiatives, and programs for businesses and residential customers. We measure our performance in terms of service reliability, an enjoyable customer experience, and an unwavering dedication to public and workplace safety. Liberty Utilities currently operates in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Texas. For more information, please visit www.LibertyUtilities.com.