Let CURB be heard in Westar case

It’s bad enough that the Kansas Corporation Commission so often discounts and even ignores the concerns of the Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board, a watchdog agency created by state law to represent residential and small-business utility customers. It will be worse if a KCC official’s ruling stands and CURB is not allowed to intervene in a $10.5 million Westar Energy rate case relating to energy-saving thermostats for homeowners and multimillion-dollar rebates for Wichita’s Occidental Chemical Corp. “If we’re not there, the only parties (in the case) will be Westar and the KCC staff,” said David Springe, CURB chief consumer counsel. The KCC prehearing officer, Brian Fedotin, ruled that CURB hadn’t shown that its participation was necessary to ensure small consumers’ interests would be adequately represented. CURB has appealed the ruling. Surely Westar’s 19 requested rate increases since 2009, for almost $470 million total, should be evidence enough of the need for residential and small-business ratepayers to be fully represented in every case.