June 4, 2008
KCC ignores consumer concerns in Atmos case; CURB petitions for reconsideration
Ignoring concerns raised by CURB in the Atmos rate case, the KCC has approved a settlement agreement between its Staff and the company that grants Atmos a $2.1 million rate increase. CURB filed a petition for reconsideration, requesting that the KCC consider adding two key provisions that CURB had recommended be included to provide customers more protections than the settlement agreement provides.
First, the Commission declined to order Atmos to record a regulatory liability to protect ratepayers against the potential loss of their contributions to future costs of removal of utility facilities after they are retired. This provision, if adopted, would not have altered the terms of the settlement or the rate increase granted to Atmos. CURB argued that it was arbitrary and capricious to deny Atmos' customers the identical protection the Commission had found that Westar customers should have in Westar's last rate case.
Second, CURB argued that the Commission's approval of a provision in the settlement that would base the rate of return on costs placed in the Gas Safety and Reliability Surcharge on the average return granted other utilities that have a GSRS did not comply with the GSRS statute. The statute, K.S.A. 66-2204, requires that the return be set on the actual costs of the utility requesting to implement the surcharge. If the KCC refuses to reconsider, the rate of return on the GSRS will be higher than is appropriate for Atmos in current economic conditions.
Atmos and Staff have an opportunity to respond to CURB's petition before the Commission issues its final order. If the petition is denied, the denial will constitute final agency action that is ripe for appeal.KCC Docket No. 08-ATMG-280-RTS