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In re Joint Application of Westar Energy, Inc. and Kansas Gas and Electric Co.

ELR Citation: 50 ELR 20084
Nos. 120436, (Kan., 04/03/2020)

The Kansas Supreme Court held unlawful a rate design approved by the Kansas Corporation Commission under which utilities charged residential customers generating their own electricity from a renewable source (DG customers) a higher price than they charged non-DG customers. The utilities argued that two Kansas statutes were in conflict with each other and that the more recent statute, which allowed them to charge more to DG customers, preempted the older statute, which prohibited them from doing so. The appellate court agreed, finding the two statutes conflicted and the newer statute must control because it was the latest pronouncement from the state legislature and the more specific statute. The high court reversed, finding no conflict between the two statutes because the older statute focused on the price of goods and services sold by the utilities while the more recent statute addressed rate structure rather than price. It thus concluded the rate design violated the older statute because it used a customer's DG status as a basis for charging more for the same goods and services. It therefore reversed the appellate court and remanded to the Commission for further proceedings.