KCP&L Greater Missouri Operations Co., a unit of Great Plains Energy Incorporated, filed a request with the Missouri Public Service Commission to increase base rates for electric service for some of its Missouri customers.
The company is requesting to combine the two jurisdictions in the KCP&L Greater Missouri Operations Co. area (Missouri Public Service and St. Joseph Light & Power) and is requesting an 8.2 percent rate increase.
If approved, the increase would result in an average residential customer paying about $9 more each month. The rate request process takes about 11 months in Missouri. New rates would be expected to take effect in January 2017.
It has been four years since KCP&L asked for a rate increase in this part of its service territory. Customers impacted by this rate increase request live in the areas that were formerly served by Aquila, which primarily includes Missouri cities outside of Kansas City.
This proposed increase is needed to recover costs associated with additional regional transmission lines and for the numerous infrastructure and system improvements in the last several years to maintain the reliability of the electrical system, modernize the grid and enhance customer service.
Part of the 8.2 percent increase request is an increase to the customer charge to $14.50 a month. The customer charge is a fixed monthly charge that includes the cost to provide service for each customer. The company has also asked the commission to continue reflecting fuel and purchased power increases and decreases in the fuel adjustment clause on customer bills.
The electric grid that has been in place for more than 100 years was built to deliver power to customers as a one-way grid. The electric grid needed to serve customers’ needs today and in the future has evolved. A much more enhanced, dynamic two-way grid is required to meet customers’ electricity needs today. Over the past several years, KCP&L has invested millions of dollars to upgrade its electrical equipment, including the replacement of aging infrastructure and enhancement of systems needed to maintain and improve reliability.
An example of infrastructure investments is the replacement of electric meters. The new meters will allow KCP&L to have a better understanding of system issues during power outages, which is expected to result in better response and restoration times.
In addition to making upgrades to its physical infrastructure, KCP&L also recently replaced several critical systems that allow the company to use more automation and smarter technology to better manage the grid and respond to power outages. These technological improvements not only allow the utility to provide reliable power, but are also expected to enhance its customer service.
KCP&L has also made equipment upgrades to several power plants in order to reduce emissions and meet environmental regulations.
Another reliability investment that is a part of this rate increase request is the addition of additional transmission lines in the region. The additional transmission capacity is expected to create greater opportunity for lower cost power to reach customers, allow for new renewable energy sources to be added to the system and reduce grid congestion.