(St. Joseph,MO) KCP&L customers could soon see there their bills go up this spring.The electric company has made a request to the Missouri Public Service Commission to increase their fuel adjustment charges for electric customers, but after seeing bills skyrocket over the summer, St. Joseph customers are bracing themselves for the worst.
KCP&L Customer Gene Denker said before summer electric rates spiked, he and his wife were paying approximately $170 each month for an all electric apartment.
"When they did the first update increase that almost doubled our payment to almost $240 a month," Denker said.
The electric company has requested an increase for the fuel adjustment charge, increasing from $2.40 to $5.41 per 1,000 kWh used each month.
"Our rates have easily doubled from what they originally were,” KCP&L Customer Terry Shipps said. "We are easily paying $500-600 a month over a period of time and it's ridiculous."
Denker said the rate increase could hurt elderly and disabled customers living on fixed incomes.
"We at times just barely make that reading, because of our income. They say our income is too high and we live on social security [and] disability,"Denker said.
Denker said he was previously on the KCP&L level pay program through the company’s budget billing options, which allowed him to make moderate payments each month, but after missing a payment was met with an unexpected debt.
“I missed the payment, so they’ve put me off that level pay and now that whole bill, that kept accumulating, that they didn’t tell you about, the whole bill that I owe KCP&L is $1,108,” Denker said.
Denker said if he and his wife cannot get help with their bills, they are anticipating KCP&L to disconnect their power on Monday.
KCP&L representatives declined to comment on the proposed changes, but in a written statement attributed the need to a rise in fuel costs.
“The Fuel Adjustment Charge helps ensure customers are paying the correct amount for fuel and power purchased on the market rather than paying based on projections. June and September were hotter than normal and then October and November were much colder than normal, which means customers needed more electricity to cool or heat their homes. As a result, more power was purchased to meet their needs, and this expense is included in the updated Fuel Adjustment Charge.”
The company website explains the cost of providing services fluxuates, and with the proposed increase, savings will also be passed on to customers. However, Shipps is skeptical of the company’s reasoning.
"They give us a line of it's being increased due to the fuel rates or they need money to maintain their vehicles, but everyone else is in the same boat, living paycheck by paycheck,” Shipps said. "My main question is with the fuel rates going down, locally you've got areas around $1.89 and some areas around town that's $1.79. Where can you show me that the fuel rates are targeting your fleet?"
If the rate increase is approved by the Missouri Public Service Commission, KCP&L customers can expect to see an increase on their bill beginning in March.