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Missouri regulators OK Evergy changing default time-of-use pricing plan

Evergy headquarters in downtown Topeka, Kansas.
Sherman Smith
/
Kansas Reflector
Evergy headquarters in downtown Topeka, Kansas.

The Missouri Public Service Commission last week approved Evergy’s request to change the default selection for customers who fail to select one of the company’s four time-of-use pricing plans.

Missouri regulators approved Evergy’s request to change customers’ default plan days before its mandatory time-of-use pricing goes into effect.

The Missouri Public Service Commission last week approved the Kansas City-based electric utility’s request to change the default selection for customers who fail to select one of the company’s four time-of-use pricing plans.

The commission, which regulates Missouri utilities, ordered Evergy to implement time-of-use pricing, which places a premium on electricity used during periods of high demand. The new pricing takes effect this month.

Initially, Evergy would have enrolled customers in the Standard Peak Saver if they didn’t pick another plan. Under that plan, electricity on summer afternoons will be four times the price that it is the rest of the day. But now, the default plan will be closer to Evergy’s traditional pricing with smaller differences between its highest and lowest rates.

The mandatory time-of-use pricing sparked frustration over the summer as Evergy began advertising the new program and instructing customers to select their preferred plan.

Missouri Senate Majority Leader Cindy O’Laughlin, R-Shelbina, accused state regulators of trying to ration power, gouge customers and force a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. O’Laughlin threatened to take legislative action if the Missouri Public Service Commission didn’t suspend or reverse their order requiring that Evergy’s make time-of-use pricing mandatory.

Evergy said in filings with the Missouri Public Service Commission that it saw blowback on social media where customers accused the company of “trying to spike customer bills to increase profits.”

The power company requested last month to make the pricing program optional, setting off a new round of frustration from customer and environmental advocates who say the program will overwhelmingly benefit customers.

In the filing, Evergy requested the Missouri Public Service Commission allow it to make the program optional, change the default plan and limit customers’ ability to switch between rate plans.

The company received criticism from the Missouri Office of the Public Counsel, which represents ratepayers in proceedings before the Public Service Commission. In a filing, the Office of the Public Counsel said Evergy had presented two studies that show most customers will either be unaffected or benefit financially from the time-of-use pricing program.

Clean energy advocacy group Renew Missouri said Evergy should work on its marketing and outreach efforts “rather than succumbing to negative Facebook comments by reversing course and attempting to upend a binding commission order.”

Evergy withdrew the requests to make the program optional and restrict customers’ ability to switch plans and left in place the request to change the default pricing mechanism, which regulators approved last week.

This story was originally published on the Missouri Independent.
Copyright 2023 KCUR 89.3. To see more, visit KCUR 89.3.

Allison Kite