A retiree from Kansas writes the FERC to ask why it lets utilities "punish" their customers.
When senior citizens with time on their hands start taking an interest in utility regulation, you just know that's big trouble for bureaucrats. Ask James Hoecker, chairman of the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Last month Hoecker opened his email box to find a short message from one Hersch Davis, a retiree from Wichita, Kan. Davis wrote the chairman on Sept. 8 to ask him why he lets utilities foist high rates on some customers without any rhyme or reason - but spare others simply because of where they live. Isn't that redlining?
In his email to Hoecker, Davis complains of high electric rates in some parts of Kansas - a disparity made even more glaring by the upcoming "Westar" merger. That deal would combine Western Resources with Kansas City Power & Light Co., but would lock in high rates for Wichita residents - prices much higher than in Topeka or Kansas City. Why, you ask? It's all because Wichita takes service from Kansas Gas & Electric, which invested heavily in the high-cost Wolf Creek nuclear plant before it was taken over by Western Resources in 1991 and reorganized as a wholly owned subsidiary.