Regulators’ resistance could unravel a consensus plan to allocate millions of dollars Energy efficiency programs for Evergy’s customers in Kansas.
Evergy, the largest electric utility in Kansas, came along too Agreement with consumer and environmental advocates on a variety of programs designed to reduce energy consumption and save customers nearly $100 million over four years.
The plan must be approved by the Kansas Corporation Commission. but Objections from employees of the KCC means there are now two proposals: the original one and one that cuts programs by more than 80%.
“The KCC staff and Evergy essentially scrapped almost everything from the original agreement,” said Ty Gorman, Kansas representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.
Evergy has implemented energy efficiency programs — including funding home improvements and weathering — in Missouri for years. But setting up the same programs in Kansas has proven difficult.
The company applied to the KCC nearly a year ago to set up a number of programs and later reached an agreement with the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, the Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board and other stakeholders from whom it appreciates that they would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an amount comparable to taking tens of thousands of cars off the road.
But KCC officials protested, saying the programs would benefit Evergy more than taxpayers. Now the commissioners will decide between the two competing proposals. Evergy has subscribed to both, but proponents do not subscribe to the version supported by KCC staff.
“We don’t think it’s better than nothing,” said Dave Nickel, consumer advisor for the Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board, which represents home and small business energy consumers. “We think it’s going in the opposite direction.”
CURB and environmental groups worked for months to reach consensus to both reduce emissions and provide programs to help low-income customers.
“It’s just awful what they agreed on, but there was an agreement to move forward with both the original deal and this new deal and let the commissioners decide,” said Ashok Gupta, senior energy economist for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Evergy spokeswoman Gina Penzig said in a statement that either the initial agreement or the smaller programs are a “positive step forward for Evergy’s customers in Kansas.”
“For more than a decade, Evergy’s customers in Missouri have benefited from energy efficiency programs, and we want to offer programs to our customers in Kansas,” she said. “Investing in energy efficiency helps customers use less energy and lower their bills, which is good for household budgets and makes businesses more competitive.”
KCC spokeswoman Linda Berry said in a statement that staff “continue to support the original list of programs.”
“The staff also supports the smaller set included in the alternative arrangement because it maintains low-income programs and educational programs while dramatically reducing the cost Evergy would have to incur to implement these programs, thereby reducing the amount customers pay for.” programs have to pay,” Berry said.
Evergy, consumer advocates and environmental groups argue that it is cheaper to reduce customers’ energy needs than to build new power plants or renewable energy, which means that in the long run customers who do not directly use the programs will also benefit.
And Kansas lags behind almost every state in its investment in energy efficiency policies and programs. The state ranks 47th out of the 50 states and Washington, DC
Now, the KCC could hold a hearing on the new proposal in early December, before Evergy and stakeholders file briefs to persuade commissioners to pass one package or another. The KCC is expected to make a decision in mid-February.