Community discusses potential electric rate increase

People in St. Joseph could soon see a slight increase on their electric bill.

Posted: Jul. 9, 2018 8:59 PM
Updated: Jul. 10, 2018 6:35 PM

(St.Joseph,MO) People in St. Joseph could soon see a slight increase on their electric bill.Monday afternoon representatives from Kansas City Power and Light (KCP&L) and the Missouri Public Service Commission hosted a public hearing at City Hall to address the possibility of KCP&L raising electric rates.

In January KCP&L filed a request with the Missouri Public Service Commission to adjust the fuel base rate and raise electric rates for residential customers in northwest Missouri.

"What we are asking for is a 0.3 percent decrease in their [customers] actual rates. Then with the fuel adjustments, that's evaluated every six months, it will equate to a $2 per month increase on the bill,"KCP&L Spokesperson Jeremy McNeive said.

KCP&L plans to boost their electric revenue by $19.5 million in 2019. McNeive said the extra funds going towards capital projects including alternative energy sourcing, updating the company billing system and expanding the number of electric vehicle charging stations in the area.

St. Joseph resident Sharon Jones said she felt some of the answers KCP&L provided at the public hearing were unclear.

"Some of the answers, I thought, weren't straight forward enough for us to understand. It seemed like they went all around, beat around the bush. A good straight answer would have been a lot easier for us to understand," Jones said.

One of Jones’ biggest concerns about the potential increase is how it will impact senior citizens and other people living on a fixed income.

"These increases on all utilities I think are getting a little out of hand.Two percent, two dollars, three dollars may not sound like a lot, but when you add them up with everyone and with the fixed income people, the seniors;most of us struggle as we try to get along as it is. That's what makes it hard," Jones said.

St.Joseph Mayor Bill McMurray testified during the hearing, asking the commission to consider opting out of raising electric rates for residents.

“A couple dollars a month is not going to impact me particularly, but it is going to impact a lot of the citizens of St.Joseph. A lot of our people are on fixed incomes,” McMurray said. “We did not approve a rate increase for the sewer rate this year, and I would just ask the public service commission consider doing the same in light of the very difficult time the citizens of St.Joseph have just with sustenance issues.”

McMurray also requested that if residential customers have an increased electric rate, it be set at the same rate as commercial customers.

“I understand that the commercial customers will receive a slight decrease of 0.6 percent. I would hope the commission would consider at least giving an equal decrease to the residential customers of 0.6 percent, lets be fair across the board to all customers,” McMurray said.

The company plans to increase customer’s electric rates, despite KCP&L receiving millions in additional revenue from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

"We are looking at an estimate total of about $29 to $30million [in savings], but there are other pieces that have to be worked out and sorted out," McNeive said.

The hearing process in far from over.The commission will host public hearings in communities throughout KCP&L’s service area until November. If a rate increase is approved by the commission customers will see additional charges beginning in January 2019.

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