The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

March 1, 2013

Rate hikes push profits higher for Great Plains

From The Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A full year of rate increases pushed Great Plains Energy’s profits higher in both the fourth quarter and all of 2012, the utility company reported Thursday.

Great Plains, the parent company of Kansas City Power & Light, said its fourth-quarter net income was $4.3 million, up from $1.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2011.

The company earned $198.3 million for the year, up nearly $26 million over 2011, The Kansas City Star ( reported.

“Despite the challenging environment, we delivered solid financial and operating results and believe we are well positioned for the future,” said Terry Bassham, Great Plains’ president and chief executive officer.

Missouri regulators approved an average 5.2 percent increase in electricity rates in 2011 for KCP&L’s Kansas City customers, while rates in Kansas rose 4.5 percent that year. Customers in areas the utility acquired when it bought Aquila and St. Joseph Light & Power also saw their rates increased.

Regulators in both states last year also approved additional rate increases that went into effect in January.

“We executed on our commitment to implement new rates that provide an opportunity for continued investment in our system and improved returns,” Bassham said.

Shares of Great Plains closed Thursday at $21.83, up 14 cents. The company released its final results after trading closed.

The company said weather hurt and helped its bottom line last year, with demand for electricity high during last summer’s scorching heat wave but not so much during last year’s mild winter.

Higher costs to operate the Wolf Creek nuclear power plant near Burlington, in eastern Kansas, also cut into profits last year, the company said. Great Plains Energy and Westar Energy, based in Topeka, Kan., are majority owners of the power plant.

Great Plains’ electric utility business, including KCP&L, generated net income of $216.6 million last year, while its nonregulated business and other operations lost $16.7 million last year.

The company expects its earnings to be in the range of $1.44 to $1.64 per share in 2013, up from $1.35 per share in 2012.