Kansas energy officials see relief after winter storm that left thousands without power

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TOPEKA, Kan. — Energy officials in Kansas are seeing some relief after extreme winter weather earlier this year that left thousands of Kansans without power.

Governor Laura Kelly held a ceremonial bill signing for House Bill 2072 on Thursday. The bill is set to help utility and natural gas companies with some of the added costs from the winter storm in February.

David Campbell, CEO of Evergy, referred to the bill as the “Grid Act,” as he recapped the financial toll many Kansans faced after the freezing temperatures.

“The Grid Act is a significant step forward. It’s a significant step in state energy policy. It’s going to help Evergy to become more sustainable while saving customers money,” Campbell said.

The law has already been in effect since April thanks to swift action from lawmakers to pass it through both the House and Senate. It allows the Kansas Corporation Commission to authorize the securitization of certain public utility generating facilities, qualified extraordinary costs and issuance of securitized utility tariff bonds. These companies would be able to refinance some of the expenses they’ve seen since the storm.

“Securitization enables us to access low-interest loans to pay off some of the balances that are on the books. So at the same time, the proceeds from that will enable us to reinvest in Kansas in the electric grid,” Campbell said.

He said the law gives utilities a path forward to minimize the cost impact to customers when they need to retire aging generation assets, or deal with extraordinary costs from extreme events.

The extreme weather led to statewide rolling blackouts to conserve energy and natural gas. Some communities in Kansas have seen massive bills adding up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs.

“There’s a lot of concern about the role of carbon emissions and the role of global warming and climate change. One of the things we frequently hear from customers is they also want to make sure it remains reliable and affordable,” said Gina Penzig, a spokesperson for the company.

The company said the experience inspired them to move toward renewable and reliable energy sources, as it relies less on its coal power plants.

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