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Evergy backpedals on requests to change time-based rate program. What you need to know

With just 12 days until its planned rollout of time-based electricity rates in Missouri, utility giant Evergy has withdrawn most of its recent requests to state regulators to modify the program.

The company is now only requesting that the “Peak Reward Saver” plan, which it has touted as the closest to its current “flat” rate, be adopted as the default for customers when the program officially launches in just a few weeks.

Evergy filed with state regulators Monday night to withdraw its other requests, which included adding a “flat rate” option next spring and making it more difficult for customers to switch between plans.

The Missouri Public Service Commission, which regulates investor-owned utility monopolies in the state, now has to decide how to handle the company’s amended request. Other parties like commission staff, customer advocacy groups and nonprofits have until Monday, Sept. 25 to weigh in.

What does this mean for Evergy customers in Missouri?

As of Tuesday afternoon, nothing about Evergy’s upcoming time-of-use rate plan has officially changed. However, if state regulators give the company its way in the coming weeks, two main details of the rollout will change:

  1. Evergy will start switching its Missouri customers onto mandatory time-of-use rates on Oct. 14, instead of Oct. 1.

  2. Customers who haven’t already chosen a plan will be assigned to the Peak Reward Saver Plan, which is closer to Evergy’s “flat rate,” instead of the Standard Peak Saver plan, which has larger premiums and discounts throughout the day.

We’ll learn more about what the Public Service Commission plans to do with the new modified request at their Thursday morning agenda meeting.

Why is Evergy changing its requests at the last minute?

Evergy claims it’s withdrawing most of its requests because of the strong reactions from groups like state regulatory staff, Renew Missouri and the Office of Public Counsel (OPC), a small group of lawyers tasked with representing utility customers before the commission.

“Evergy did not anticipate the significant amount of response from other parties that the Commission has received,” the company wrote in its Monday night filing.

Geoff Marke, the OPC’s chief economist, put it more bluntly in a conversation with The Star Monday.

“There was an immediate pushback from all parties,” Marke said. “This is just not how things are done, typically.”

Usually, he said, rate change requests from large utilities like Evergy take upward of nine months for state regulators to process. But the company’s Sept. 8 request for four major changes came just 22 days before the Oct. 1 rollout date. And Evergy’s filing Monday night suggested a new rollout date of Oct. 14 — just 24 days away.

Regardless of how the ongoing case turns out, Evergy customers in Missouri can soon expect to see new time-based electricity rates.

The basics haven’t changed: all four of the new rate plans will charge a premium price for electricity from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays. And all four will offer customers a discount on electricity used between midnight and 6 a.m. every day.

Do you have more questions about Evergy’s upcoming time-of-use rate plans? Ask the Service Journalism team at kcq@kcstar.com.