Much of the attention in Washington, D.C., is focused on the health care overhaul legislation. But cap-and-trade legislation, designed to reduce carbon emissions, is still out there and one of Missouri’s largest utility companies is warning about possible consequences of that passing.
Kansas City Power & Light’s President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Downey insists the company is not opposed to cleaning our environment. In fact, he makes it clear KCP&L favors moving in the direction of a cleaner environment, but he has concerns about the path that is being proposed to get there.
“I don’t think that the long term commitment to a cleaner environment goes away – it certainly doesn’t go away for us,” said Downey in an interview with the Missourinet at a recent Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry event in Kansas City, “But … it’s the path we take and it’s being careful about those expectations and understanding the public’s willingness to make the investments.”
Those investments would, according to KCP&L and other utility companies, include higher electricity rates.
“We think that there would be, under the proposals that are out there right now, we could see increases on the order of 15 to 40 percent starting as early as 2012,” said Downey. “Perhaps maybe as much as $300 per residential household.”
Cost increases are very important to customers and KCP&L wants its ratepayers to realize what might be coming in the future.
“We feel it’s important to make sure our customers understand the impacts as we see them,” said Downey. “We also think it’s important to work with responsible environmental groups to find paths forward.”
The company likes the idea of having a plan in place, but would prefer that the plan chosen be one that works best for the company and its customers.
“There’s a great deal of appeal to having legislative certainty because we have to make huge investments for the long haul and that would be our preference,” said Downey. “But we’ve got to have legislation that reflects the realities of technology being available, the time it’ll take to put things in place, and the impact financially on customers.”
Missouri gets most of its energy from coal, which is targeted by many environmental groups as a major polluter.
Kansas City Power & Light has approximately one million customers in western Missouri and eastern Kansas, with about 60 percent of the company’s customers in Missouri.