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Kansas Commission Opens Company-Specific Investigations on February Weather Event

March 10, 2021
Investigations to examine each utility's proposal to minimize the financial impacts of the weather emergency on its customers.

The Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) has issued an order opening seven company-specific investigations pertaining to the impacts of the February weather emergency.

The investigations will examine each utility's proposal to minimize the financial impacts of the February weather emergency on its customers. The high demand, along with generation facility issues because of cold weather, created supply shortages and extraordinarily high energy prices.

On Feb. 14, 2021, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly issued a State of Disaster Emergency because of wind chill warnings and stress on utility and natural gas providers. It was noted that sub-zero temperatures were causing increased energy demand and natural gas supply constraints throughout Kansas, and utilities were experiencing wholesale natural gas price increase — from 10 to 100 times higher than normal. These costs could eventually flow through to consumers through increases in monthly natural gas and electric bills.

The Commission issued an Emergency Order on Feb. 15, 2021, ordering regulated utilities to defer these costs for review and present a plan to minimize ratepayer impact over a reasonable timeframe. It also directed all jurisdictional natural gas and electric utilities to take appropriate actions to ensure adequate transportation of natural gas and electricity to interconnected, non-jurisdictional Kansas utilities. Jurisdictional natural gas and electric utilities were ordered to do everything necessary to ensure continued service to their Kansas customers.

The investigations initiated by the newest order will address the cause of reduced natural gas supplies, high natural gas prices, supply and demand imbalances in the Southwest Power Pool Integrated Market, and what steps can be taken to make sure utilities are better prepared for future extreme weather events.

The seven companies listed in the order are Evergy (Kansas Metro and Kansas Central), Liberty Empire, Southern Pioneer, Kansas Gas Service, Atmos Energy, Black Hills Energy, and American Energies Gas Service.

A report and recommendation filed by KCC staff on March 1 stated that company-specific investigatory dockets would allow staff to tailor its investigation to match each utility's unique circumstances.

The latest order can be viewed here.

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