The Kansas Corporation Commission Appoints New Member Amid Evergy Rate Case

The Senate Confirmation Oversight Committee has voted to approve the appointment of Annie Kuether as a new member of the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC). Kuether, a retired Democratic legislator representing central Topeka, joins the KCC at a critical time when utility monopoly Evergy is seeking to raise electric rates.

The appointment of Kuether comes as Evergy has requested a rate hike of $218 million per year. While Kuether acknowledged the significance of the rate case, she refrained from taking a stance on Evergy’s proposal or the separate issue of transmission lines. She emphasized the need to approach these matters with an open mind and clear focus.

Senate Majority Leader Larry Alley supported Kuether’s decision, stating that she had not yet been briefed on the rate case and did not possess the necessary information to form an opinion. Despite concerns about her readiness to make an informed decision on the rate case, Kuether assured that she would be prepared when the time comes.

Kuether’s appointment to the KCC is notable considering Evergy’s first request in five years to increase utility rates across the eastern half of Kansas. The proposed rate increase of $218 million has faced opposition from KCC staff who argue that much of the increase is unwarranted. They suggest a smaller rate increase in the central region and a rate cut in the metro region, which would result in $18 million in rate reductions.

The KCC commissioners have been receiving thousands of pages of documents and public comments regarding the rate case. While official actions have been limited thus far, the commission’s work is expected to intensify with upcoming evidentiary hearings in October. A decision on the rate case is anticipated to be made in late December or early January.

During the confirmation hearing, concerns were raised by Republican senators regarding the timing of Kuether’s appointment. They believed it was inappropriate to make changes to the KCC board member amidst an ongoing rate case. Kuether is replacing Commissioner Susan Duffy, whose term expired in March.

In conclusion, Annie Kuether’s appointment to the KCC comes at a crucial time as the commission deliberates Evergy’s proposed rate increase. With the rate case ongoing, Kuether will need to quickly acquaint herself with the details in order to fulfill her duties as a commissioner.