TOPEKA, (KSNT) – Energy officials in Kansas see some relief after extreme winter conditions earlier this year that left thousands of Kansans without power.
Governor Laura Kelly held a signing ceremony for House Bill 2072 on Thursday. The bill is expected to help utilities and natural gas companies with some of the additional costs associated with the winter storm in February.
David Campbell, CEO of Evergy, called the bill a “Grid Act,” as he recapped the financial toll many Kansans have faced after the freezing temperatures.
“The Grid Act is a big step forward. It is an important step in the energy policy of the State. This will help Evergy become more sustainable while saving customers money, ”Campbell said.
The law has already been in force since April thanks to swift action by lawmakers to get it passed by both the House and the Senate. It allows the Kansas Corporation Commission to authorize the securitization of certain utility production facilities, qualified extraordinary costs, and the issuance of securitized utility rate bonds. These companies would be able to refinance some of the expenses they have incurred since the storm.
“Securitization allows us to access loans at low interest rates to repay part of the balances on the books. So at the same time, the proceeds from that will allow us to reinvest in Kansas into the power grid, ”Campbell said.
He said the law gives utilities a way forward to minimize the cost impact for customers when they have to retire aging production assets or deal with extraordinary costs associated with extreme events.
Extreme weather conditions have led to statewide power outages to save energy and natural gas. Some Kansas communities have seen massive bills amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs.
“There are many concerns about the role of carbon emissions and the role of global warming and climate change. One of the things we hear frequently from customers is that they also want to make sure it remains reliable and affordable, ”said Gina Penzig, spokesperson for the company.
The company said the experience had prompted it to switch to renewable and reliable energy sources, as it relies less on its coal-fired power plants.