- Associated Press - Thursday, October 27, 2016

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Westar Energy Inc. is seeking to raise its prices by about $17.4 million, which would increase the average residential bill in Kansas by about $1.54 per month.

The company filed the request Wednesday with the Kansas Corporation Commission to recover costs that weren’t available when last year’s full price review was conducted, Westar spokeswoman Gina Penzig said.

The bulk of the increase - $10 million - is for environmental upgrades at power plants, primarily in the LaCygne Generation Station, to meet federal requirements, the Topeka Capital-Journal reports (https://bit.ly/2eeIMuV ). The plant is co-owned by Westar and Kansas City Power & Light, and both companies evenly split the work.

Costs were estimated at $1.23 billion when the Kansas Corporation Commission gave its approval in 2011, but Penzig said the work came in under budget because of “efficiencies.”

“We don’t have the final price yet because we’re still doing a few accounting things,” she said. “Right now, we expect the project is going to come in at least $75 million under the allowed costs.”

The rate increase request also includes $6.5 million for investments in the grid design to improve reliability. Those investments were part of a $50 million, five-year pilot project to modernize the Westar grid.

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Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, https://www.cjonline.com

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