The Average Payment Plan can help reduce your high bills in summer and winter and make it easier to manage your monthly bill. The plan allows you to pay a monthly bill on the average cost of your most recent 12-month period. The amount due may vary slightly month to month but if you were signed up for Average Payment, your bill for this month would have only been Label and then every bill in the coming months would be close to that same amount. It’s not too late to sign up for your Label bill.
For more information about the Average Pay Program and how it can help reduce high bill surprises, visit our Average Payment Plan page
What is the Kansas Rate Study?
When KCP&L and Westar Energy merged in 2018, we agreed to conduct a Rate Study as part of the merger agreement. The purpose of the study was to compile Kansas electric and peer utility rates, identify rate differences and outline major contributors to current rate levels. We kept that commitment when we filed the results of that study with the Kansas Corporation Commission on Jan. 14, 2019.
What was the scope of the study?
The study reviewed rates from 2017 and included 35 investor-owned, vertically-integrated electric providers that served 11.1 million customers in Kansas, Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Arkansas.
What events led up to the study?
Historically, our customers benefitted from lower rates compared to other utilities. That’s because our plants were largely fueled by affordable coal, and our off-system energy sales to other companies helped offset our utility customer costs. These gave coal-based Kansas cost advantages. However, after decades of well-below-average customer prices, our energy costs increased from 2007-2017. When our electricity prices began to outpace our neighbors, some customers asked about causes behind these changes.
What are some of the specific challenges that drove up rates?
From 2007–2017, the electric utility industry experienced upheaval from a variety of factors, and not all companies were impacted equally by these changes.
Where do Westar Energy prices stand now?
Now that we’ve concluded rate increases that were necessary to recover investments costs, we’re ahead of the curve on environmental requirements, our rates align with the national average and we’re entering a period of rate stability.
What can customers expect for rates in the future?
We have good reasons to be confident about future rates. As part of our merger agreement, we committed to no base rate changes until December 2023. In fact, we lowered rates across our service territory in 2018 and began issuing credits related to the merger and Tax Cut and Jobs Act. Beyond 2023, customers can expect fewer and smaller rate increases.
Some of our peers are now entering or getting ready to enter a period of significant investments in generation, transmission and distribution. These factors will help close the gap in rates between us and our peers.
What merger/federal tax bill credits are customers receiving?
The merger credits take two forms, a one-time, up-front credit, and for Kansas, four additional annual credits. You can view a full summary here.
Can Westar increase rates whenever they want?
As regulated utilities, we follow a thorough, eight-month process to request rate changes. That process is determined by the state of Kansas, with oversight by the Kansas Corporation Commission, which strives to balance the needs of our customers and investors. The process gives stakeholders a chance to audit our filings and provide input, helping to ensure just and reasonable rates.
What if I'm struggling to pay my bill, even with the decrease in rates?
Westar customers: Dial 211 for United Way, or visit www.211Kansas.org. They can help find programs in your area that may assist in bridging the financial gap.
What was the result of Westar's environmental upgrades?
Kansans can breathe easier with reduced emissions. By end 2020, we’ll:
What else do Westar and KCP&L have planned for the future?
The merger made us a stronger, more efficient company. Merger savings and efficiencies are on track with promised levels. And as we conclude a significant build and retrofit cycle, our investments stand poised to meet our customers’ electric needs for many years to come. Looking forward, our goal is to help customers get the type of energy they want in a way that’s sustainable over time, and we’re well-positioned to meet those future needs.
In addition to customer benefits, we’re honoring our commitment to no involuntary layoffs as a result of the merger. We’ve alsomade major investments in Topeka, Pittsburg and Wichita, affirming our commitment to Kansas communities, and our employees are also heavily involved in volunteering to make our communities great places to live.
What is the net result of the rate update for customers?
On Sept. 27, 2018, the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) approved an overall decrease of $66 million annually, or approximately 3.3%. Average residential customers will receive an approximate $3.80 per month decrease.
What savings are factored into the rate case?
Thanks to our merger with Great Plains Energy and tax law changes, Westar customers will receive over $100 million in rebates over the next five years. For an average residential customer, the total rebate would be about $90. The merger agreement also establishes that any earnings achieved in excess of stated thresholds will be shared with customers annually.
Other factors that lowered cost included returning full savings from new lower federal tax laws to customers, which resulted in about $74 million per year, as well as lower financing costs that provide savings of about $29 million.
What expenses are factored into the rate case?
The largest expense item is depreciation. Every five to seven years, we’re required by commission rules to file a new depreciation study. This ensures that customers are paying for the assets – the poles, wires, substations and power plants – that provide their power today, no more and no less. It avoids pushing costs onto current customers inappropriately, or future generations of customers. Updating depreciation costs included in our prices accounts for $46 million in increased expense.
The addition of the Western Plains Wind Farm also accounts for about $24 million in increased expense. However, the net fuel savings, which have been benefitting customers for more than a year now, are about $27 million per year. Our application also includes an optional proposal that would level this cost over the lifetime of the wind farm, mimicking the cost under a purchase power agreement. This approach would benefit customers by lowering associated expenses.
Why is Westar offering new rates?
If usage during peak times is left unmanaged, we’d eventually need to construct more power plants and other fixed assets, which raises costs for everyone. These new optional rates incent customers to shift energy use away from peak times and use the power grid more efficiently, which benefits everyone.
The rates also were designed in response to technology changes and customers who said they like having choices, as well as control over their energy usage and bills. Now, customers can have the year-round comfort they want and be rewarded for shifting energy use outside of peak electric usage hours, when energy is more expensive to produce.
How do the new rates work?
Customers who shift their energy use outside of peak periods can save on their electric bills because they receive a cheaper per unit Energy Charge per kilowatt-hour (kWh) than the traditional residential rate. In exchange for the reduced energy rate, we include a monthly Demand Charge.
Demand is based on usage, or kilowatts (kW) of electricity needed at any given time. Each month, we calculate Demand Charge based on the customer’s highest average electric need in a 60-minute window during peak hours. That’s when overall usage on our electrical system is at its highest and is more expensive to generate. The more customers shift energy usage outside peak hours, the lower their Demand Charge will be.
To better understand the difference between Energy Charge and Demand Charge, compare energy usage to driving a car: Energy Charge (kWh) is like the price you pay per gallon, while Demand Charge is like being charged for where you “top out” on your speedometer.
Here's a breakdown of Demand and other charges to help you understand your bill:
Is it hard to reduce demand?
There are several easy steps you can take to shift energy use outside of peak hours. Here are some examples:
How are demand-based rates different from the Residential Standard Rate?
All residential rates include the same Basic Service Fee, but the rates differ based on when and how customers use energy.
How do customers know which rate plan is right for them?
We can’t predict whether any given customer will save money on these rates because savings depend on usage. However, customers can log into My Westar online and use our easy Rate Calculator to compare the Standard Rate to a demand rate. It’s also helpful to note that demand rates might be right for customers who:
How does the Rate Calculator work?
It calculates average demand by month, using one year of your usage data. For customers who have less than a year of service, the calculator will use 1,000 kWh and 6kW, which is the average energy use and demand for all residential customers.
How are the demand-based plans different from each other?
The EV Rate only is for customers who own an electric vehicle. Currently, the Peak Efficiency Plan and EV Rate are subject to the same energy usage and demand costs. However, we’re working to upgrade meter technology across our service territory. Once those initiatives are completed, we’ll have the opportunity to review and modify the EV rate so it’s more aligned with those customers’ usage patterns.
If customers enroll in a demand-based rate, are they required to stay on it?
Because usage fluctuates significantly throughout the year, we ask customers to remain on new rates for at least one year. However, as a courtesy we’ll allow a one-time opt-out for customers who have been on a new rate for less than a year.
How do customers sign up for the new rates?
Customers soon will be able to enroll themselves in new rates. In the interim, they may submit a rate change request by logging into their My Westar account online, or by calling Customer Service at (800) 383-1183 (weekdays, 7 a.m. - 6 p.m.).
Why is Westar changing the DG rate?
In 2015, The Kansas Corporation Commission, which regulates our rates and services, recognized the need for a private generation customer rate. In a recent order to our rate review filed earlier this year, a change was made to that Distributed Generation rate. With this new rate, prices for residential Distributed Generation customers better match the way they use our service.
This won't change what we pay you for excess energy you provide back to the grid as a net metering customer. We're only changing the rates you're charged for energy you use.
DG customers will now pay a demand component on their bills, as established by the commission, to better align charges with costs to serve those customers. However, DG customers now pay less for their actual energy consumption (per kWh) than they were previously, so they can still receive notable monthly energy savings.
How will customers who were on an older DG rate be impacted?
Customers who were placed on this rate before October 2015 are grandfathered on the Standard Residential Rate, meaning their billing structure won’t be altered.
How can customers view their current demand?
Demand is printed on monthly bills and is available via My Westar (online account) in the Usage Detail section.
If a customer is interested in purchasing DG and wants to know how bills will be impacted, is there a way to compare rates?
Customers can use the Rate Calculator on My Westar to get a general idea of what that change might look like. This won’t be precise, however, because that calculator wasn’t designed to factor in energy being generated and added to the grid.
How are Commercial & Industrial (C&I) rates impacted?
Most C&I customers will see savings from the rate update, with some exceptions. The tables below outline charges for each group (excluding items like applicable adjustments, riders and surcharges, which vary by location). Here’s a description of each line item in any given billing month: