Evergy, the utility company serving eastern Kansas and western Missouri, is planning to request a rate increase in Kansas next year to meet the increased electricity demand expected from the Panasonic battery plant.
This decision follows the pending approval of a rate hike request already submitted to state regulators. Documents filed by Evergy with the Kansas Corporation Commission reveal that the Panasonic plant, a massive 4-million-square-foot facility in Johnson County, is set to double the electricity demand of Evergy’s largest current customer in the state. To accommodate this demand, Evergy will need to construct two new substations, upgrade three existing ones, and make improvements to 31 miles of transmission lines.
In response to this heightened demand, Evergy has announced its intention to continue burning coal at a Lawrence power plant until at least 2028, delaying plans to transition part of the plant to natural gas. This decision has faced criticism from environmental advocates.
The potential rate hike associated with Panasonic would be in addition to Evergy’s previously proposed increase, with exact figures yet to be determined. Evergy has stated that the allocation of costs among customers will be decided during the ongoing regulatory proceedings.
Evergy is also planning to open an abbreviated rate case within a year of the KCC’s decision. This additional case will encompass investments related to Panasonic, costs associated with the future decommissioning of the Wolf Creek nuclear power plant, and investments in renewable energy sources.
The Panasonic plant, set to produce batteries for electric vehicles, is expected to have a substantial impact on Evergy’s resources. With energy needs starting to increase in 2024 and full load requirements by 2026, Evergy faces challenges in procuring the necessary capacity and energy to meet this demand.
At full production, the Panasonic plant is estimated to require 200 to 250 megawatts of electricity, equivalent to that of a small city. While Panasonic is responsible for part of the required upgrades, Evergy is committed to ensuring the reliability of the power system for all customers and intends to negotiate with Panasonic for a “special contract rate” related to the power load. System upgrades are deemed necessary to maintain reliability as a result of the significant load addition.
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