Local Westar customers voice concerns about Westar's proposed rate raises

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

Jennifer Connelly lives on 13 acres in Butler County. She says her solar panels produce nearly half of her family's energy and save her money.  

"It is very alarming,” Connelly said.

The money she saves is a loss for Westar, the state’s largest power company whose considering an extra charge for people like Connelly who generate their own electric. 

"As you can tell by my t-shirt, I'm a very large advocate of solar and we've been promoting it since Jimmy Carter was in office,” Connelly said.

The proposed surcharge would nearly double Connelly's energy bill.

"We have to think about our children's future, my grandchildren's future. We're moving forward across the world, and we're gonna be left in the dust here in the United States if we don't change our ways,” Connelly said.

Westar provides service to about 700,000 customers in Kansas. The company hosted a public meeting in Wichita on Thursday for people to voice their concerns. 

The new rate would add almost three dollars to Westar customer's bills. Also, solar users could also see a bill increase of nearly 50%.

The Climate and Energy Project argues the increase would essentially kill future development of solar energy in the state. 

"Wichita has more sunny days than Florida. We have an opportunity to grow the solar economy like we've grown the wind economy over the last decade. That's not gonna happen if we continue to make rates without having a long-term plan,” Dorothy Barnett, Executive Director of Climate and Energy Project, said.

Customers who want to be heard can file a testimony by July 18.

Online- Go to www.kcc.ks.gov, and click on the “Your Opinion Matters” link to submit a comment.

By mail- Send a written letter to Kansas Corporation Commission, Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, 1500 SW Arrowhead Road, Topeka, KS 66604-4027. In your letter, reference Docket No. 18-WSEE-328-RTS.

By phone- Call the commission’s Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection at 800-662-0027 or 785-271-3140.

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