My wife and I are retired teachers from Pottawatomie County. Yet, these days we’re spending our retirement trying to educate Kansans about the unfair increases being applied to electricity bills in Evergy’s service area.


In the past decade, Evergy has received more than $600 million in rate increases, raising our bills by 60%. It doesn’t matter how hard you work to decrease your electricity use, Evergy keeps hiking the price, and with those hikes, their shareholders’ profits.


As we prepared to retire, our steadily climbing electricity bill was a worry for us because we’d be on a fixed income. While at an event at the Shawnee County Fairgrounds, we checked out a display for solar panels. The numbers worked. It was an investment we could make that would provide long-term savings and lower our monthly bill.


Then, Evergy changed the rules.


It started charging a demand charge. This new charge would increase bills by an average of 50%, according to its own testimony to the Kansas Corporation Commission.


Thankfully, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled Evergy’s demand charge discriminatory. But Evergy is still charging solar customers the demand rate, despite the ruling.


Rather than Evergy refunding the money paid to customers using solar power, it now has asked the Kansas Corporation Commission to approve a different kind of fee. This time, it won’t impact only solar users but every bill payer. Evergy’s new idea to increase its profits is to impose a minimum bill of $35 on every customer.


Have a month where you’re not using a lot of electricity? Doesn’t matter. Your bill will still be $35.


Perhaps $35 doesn’t sound like a lot if your bill is usually more. You should still be concerned. Evergy’s filing says it thinks the minimum bill for all customers should be $70.


Yes, it believes every customer should pay $70 per month no matter how little electricity a homeowner uses. Solar users are far from the only ones trying to keep their bills low. If you have chattered through a Kansas winter trying to keep from using the heat or deliberated over home appliances because of energy efficiency, Evergy’s proposal will mean your sacrifices don’t translate to your bottom line.


We’re speaking out because we think this is wrong. If Evergy is successful in getting a minimum bill of $35 or $70 or even $20, it now has a tool to keep increasing the amount of that minimum bill. Sooner rather than later, no matter whether you invest in solar panels or buy a more efficient air conditioning system, Evergy is going to stick you with a bill for more than the energy you use to continue its quest to increase its bottom line.


Ratepayers are footing the bill for hedge fund owners’ profits. That’s why we’re speaking out.


My wife and I, as retired educators who love our state, invite you to join us to stand up to Evergy and this money grab for their shareholders. Evergy ratepayers should speak out against this proposal. Public comments can be made at the Kansas Corporation Commission website.


On behalf of all Kansans trying to conserve energy and lower their electric bills, thank you for reading. Join us if you can in standing up for electricity choice and fair options for all residential ratepayers. Comments are being accepted through Dec. 21, 2020.


Rick Budden is a retired educator from Pottawatomie County.