Evergy is an American investor-owned utility (IOU) with publicly traded stock that has its headquarters in Topeka, Kansas, and in Kansas City, Missouri. The company was formed from the merger of Westar Energy and Great Plains Energy, parent company of Kansas City Power & Light. Evergy is the largest electric company in Kansas, with a generating capacity of 16,000 megawatts of electricity from its over 40 power plants in Kansas and Missouri.
As of July 3, 2020, 6,460 MW of the company's power capacity is coal-fired.
Merger of KCPL and Westar into Evergy
In 2016, KCP&L and Westar announced merger plans, but this proposed merger was rejected by Kansas Corporation Commission utility regulators as unfavorable to Kansas consumers. A new merger plan with KCP&L was announced in 2017. As of May 24, 2018, this merger has been approved by both the Missouri Public Service Commission and the Kansas Corporation Commission, with the combined company to be named Evergy. KCP&L and Westar became the two operating companies of Evergy.
On October 7, 2019, the Westar and KCP&L brands were retired, and the company adopted the Evergy brand across its entire service territory.
History of Kansas City Power & Light
The company traces its roots to November 1881 when Joseph S. Chick obtained the exclusive rights to use the Thompson-Houston arc lighting system in the counties of Jackson, Missouri, and Wyandotte, Kansas, for $4,000. The following month, the initial franchise to establish an electric works in the City of Kansas, Mo., was granted to Lysander R. Moore and later assigned to Kawsmouth Electric Light Company. Construction was begun in February 1882 on a power plant on a tract of land at the southeast corner of 8th and Santa Fe Streets in the West Bottoms. Kawsmouth Electric Light Company built quickly and, on Saturday night, May 13, 1882, brought electric illumination to the first 13 customers on the west side of Main Street in the downtown district. In 1885 the company recincorporated as Kansas City Electric Light Company.
Weeks spun off the Edison Electric Light & Power Company to meet residential demand. An electric war ensued when in 1883 J. Ogden Armour, heir to the Armour Packing Company purchased the company on May 14 1900, to power the Metropolitan Street Railway Company and Kansas City Electric Light Company. Under Armour the company bought competitors and built a new power plant in 1903, providing steam heat to downtown businesses. The company focused on the trolley company and in 1911 it went into receivership. In October 1917, the company spun off the trolley business (which still controlled some power plants) and emerged from bankruptcy as Kansas City Light & Power Company. In 1917 the company began construction on the Northeast Power station.
In June 1919, the company reincorporated again, as Kansas City Power and Light Company. After acquiring the Carroll County Electric Company on July 29 1922, the reorganized company became Kansas City Power & Light Company, adopting the ampersand and corporate name that continues to this day. Armour sold his interest in 1923. Continental Gas & Electric Corporation purchased the controlling interest in 1924 and was part of United Light and Power until United dissolved in 1950. The Hawthorn Station, situated on the Missouri River, was started in 1948, and the first of two units were completed in 1951. Two other units followed and were fully operational by 1956. Kansas City Power became independent in 1950. It acquired Eastern Kansas Utilities in 1952. It was part of a consortium that built Wolf Creek Nuclear Generating Station in Burlington, Kansas. In a 2001 corporate restructure it became part of Great Plains Energy Incorporated.
On October 1, 2001 a holding company Great Plains Energy Incorporated was established based in Kansas City, Missouri that owned electric utility Kansas City Power and Light Company and Strategic Energy, LLC, an energy management company. It acquired Aquila, Inc. in July, 2008.
By 2009, KCP&L serviced more than 800,000 customers in 47 northwestern Missouri and eastern Kansas counties - a service territory of approximately 18,000 square miles, with 3,300 miles of transmission lines, close to 25,000 miles of distribution lines, and 322 substations. The Company operated nine generating stations with 26 units and 10 peaking plants providing power to both KPC&L customers and selling into the wholesale market. Over 6,100 megawatts of generation assets were in operation or under construction. Approximately 75 percent of KCP&L's fuel costs were from coal.
History of Westar Energy
Western Resources was the product of a 1992 merger between the two major electric companies in eastern Kansas, Kansas Gas and Electric (KG&E) of Wichita, Kansas and Kansas Power and Light (KPL) of Topeka.
KG&E was founded in 1909 when the American Power and Light Company took over electric companies in Wichita, Pittsburg, Kansas, and Frontenac, Kansas. Within a decade, it served over 48,000 people in 50 cities and towns. It also provided natural gas to several of the larger cities in its service territory.
KPL was founded in 1924, and quickly expanded across northeastern Kansas. In 1983, it merged with The Gas Service Company, a natural gas utility serving customers in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma.
In 1992, KPL merged with KG&E to become Western Resources, with KPL and KG&E as operating companies. The merger created one of the largest utilities in the Midwest, serving 560,000 electric customers and 1.06 million natural gas customers in three states. In 1996, Western Resources sold its natural gas business to ONEOK as Kansas Gas Service; this company is now part of ONE Gas. In return, Western Resources acquired a 45 percent stake in ONEOK; it sold this stake in 2003.
In 2002, Western Resources officially changed its name to Westar Energy, and all of its subsidiaries began doing business under that name.
Out of its total 4,971 MW of electric generating capacity in 2005 (0.47% of the U.S. total), Westar produced 59.5% from coal, 38.6% from natural gas, and 1.8% from oil. All of Westar's power plants are in Kansas.
On March 28, 2008, the Emporia Gazette reported that Westar Energy has declared "a moratorium on construction of coal-fired power plants. The company has taken a look at the rising costs and the uncertain regulatory future and decided that, right now, investing in coal plants is an unwarranted gamble."
Westar Clean Air Act Settlement
On February 4, 2009, the U.S. Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency filed a clean air lawsuit against Westar, claiming the company updated a coal plant in Kansas without installing modern pollution controls. It was the first such suit under the Obama administration. The suit alleged that Westar's 1,857 MW Jeffrey Energy Center has violated the Clean Air Act for over a decade.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. district court in Kansas City and cited Westar for violating the New Source Review (NSR) portion of the Clean Air Act. A spokesperson for the Justice Department declined to estimate how much Westar would face in fines. The largest fine in a NSR lawsuit was a $1.4 billion settlement with American Electric Power.
In response to the suit, Westar issued a statement saying:
We have known for more than six years, and have even publicly disclosed, that the Department of Justice at some point might file a lawsuit.
We are good environmental stewards, and that is why over the last several years, we have invested nearly $500 million to remove up to 90 percent of the very emissions that the EPA has targeted with its complaint. We also expect to invest more than $1 billion in additional equipment over the next five years. A graphic detailing our target emissions reductions appears with this statement.
In its 2008 annual report Westar stated "A decision in favor of the DOJ and the EPA, or a settlement prior to such a decision, if reached, could require us to update or install emissions controls at Jeffrey Energy Center. Additionally, we might be required to update or install emissions controls at our other coal-fired plants, pay fines or penalties or take other remedial action. Our ultimate costs to resolve the NSR Investigation and the related DOJ lawsuit could be material. We believe that costs related to updating or installing emissions controls would qualify for recovery in the prices we are allowed to charge our customers. If, however, a penalty is assessed against us, the penalty could be material and may not be recovered in rates. We are not able to estimate the possible loss or range of loss at this time."
On September 29, 2009, the Sierra Club announced it was planning to file a request in federal court to intervene in the lawsuit. Attorney Bob Eye said the group wanted to provide expertise and support in backing the claims made against Westar. He said the Sierra Club did not plan to raise new issues in the case.
On January 25, 2010, Westar Energy agreed to spend $500 million to reduce sulfur dioxide pollution at its Jeffrey Energy Center in Kansas by installing scrubbers by the end of 2014. The company said it had opted to settle rather than to litigate. The installation of scrubbers will reduce combined emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides by 78,600 tons each year. That figure is 85 percent lower than their 2007 emissions. Additionally, Westar will give up surplus sulfur dioxide allowance. The company will also required to control for lower particular matter emissions. The EPA also reported that Westar will spend $6 million to mitigate the detrimental effects of the accused violations, including:
- Retrofitting diesel engines on vehicles owned by or operated for public entities in Kansas with emission control equipment.
- Installing new wind turbines that will result in the reduction of criteria pollutants and greenhouse gases, and provide electricity for the benefit of a school or nonprofit.
- Installing advanced truck stop electrification to reduce harmful emissions from idling trucks.
- Installing plug-in hybrid infrastructure to facilitate the use of plug-in hybrid vehicles.
- Converting vehicles in Westar’s fleet to reduce pollution by retrofitting diesel vehicles with emission controls and purchasing hybrid vehicle.
Westar, which in 2002 sought a federal tax break, gave $25,000 to win 'a seat at the table' during congressional deliberations about the provision, even though it had no business in Texas, according to an internal company e-mail that surfaced in a criminal probe. Its executives joined Tom DeLay at a Puerto Rico golf resort owned by a TRMPAC contributor that year. DeLay supported the tax break Westar wanted.
On December 28, 2004, Public Citizen asked the Department of Justice to investigate Westar Energy for "possible bribery of members of Congress, including Tom DeLay, by Westar executives and lobbyists."  See the Westar Energy Bribery Scandal web page by Public Citizen, which includes links to press releases, memos, letters, timeline, and background information on the scandal.
Articles and Resources
- Evergy summary, Reuters, October 8, 2013
- "Global Coal Plant Tracker," Global Energy Monitor, July 2020 update
- Davis, Mark (2016-05-31). "KCP&L parent agrees to buy Topeka-based Westar Energy". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved 2018-05-24.
- Vockrodt, Steve (2017-04-19). "Regulators deny proposed $12.2 billion merger of KCP&L and Westar". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved 2018-05-24.
- Davis, Mark (2018-11-17). "Shareholders vote on KCP&L parent's merger; regulators set timetable for review". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved 2018-05-24.
- Lefler, Dion (2018-05-24). "Goodbye Westar Energy and KCP&L, hello Evergy; most Kansans to get new power company". The Wichita Eagle. Retrieved 2018-05-24.
- Evergy, Wikipedia, accessed July 3, 2020
- "Great Plains Energy Incorporated", Funding Universe, August 2009.
- "Aquila Acquisition" (PDF).Template:Dead link
- "Great Plains Energy Completes Acquisition of Aquila", Business Wire, July 14, 2008.
- "KPC&L Company Overview" KCP&L Website, August 2009.
- Existing Electric Generating Units in the United States, 2005, Energy Information Administration, accessed April 2008.
- Patrick Kelley "The Veto," emporiagazette.com, 3/24/08
- "U.S. files clean air lawsuit against Westar Energy," Reuters, February 5, 2009.
- "Westar Energy Responds to EPA/U.S. Department of Justice Lawsuit," Earth Times, February 4, 2009.
- Westar Energy, Westar Energy 2008 Annual Report", Westar Energy, page 14.
- John Hanna, "Sierra Club wants to join lawsuit against Westar," Associated Press, September 29, 2009.
- "Westar Settles Air Quality Suit For $3M, Plant Upgrade," Wall Street Journal, January 25, 2010.
- "EPA Alert: Westar Energy settles $500 million Clean Air Act violations" JusticeNewsFlash.com, accessed January 27, 2010.
- "E-mail shows DeLay sought Enron aid" Washington Post, July 12, 2004.
- "Letter to Department of Justice re: Westar bribery scandal", Public Citizen, December 28, 2004.
Related SourceWatch Articles
Wikipedia also has an article on Evergy. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL. Wikipedia also has an article on Evergy. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.