The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 7, 2001 · Page 5
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 5

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Saturday, April 7, 2001
Page 5
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THE SAUNA JOURNAL SATURDAY. APRIL 7. 2001 AB T WESTERN RESOURCES KCC suggests rate decrease Western had wanted a $151 million increase in electric rates By KATRINA HULL The Associated Press TOPEKA — Western Resources' electric rates should be reduced by $91.7 million, not raised $151 million as the company has requested, the staff of the state regulatory board has recommended. The Kansas Corporation Commission's staff filed its testimony Friday on the rate request for Western's KPL unit, which has about 345,000 customers in central and northeast Kansas, and its KGE subsidiary, T CALIFORNIA POWER WOES with about 290,000 customers in Wichita and southeast Kansas. Western requested a $93 million increase last November for KPL, which would raise residential customers' rates an average 19.5 percent. The regulatory staff recommended an increase of $262,072, or 0.2 percent. For KGE, Western wants a $58 million increase, which would raise the average residential customers' rate 10 percent. Instead, the KCC staff recommended a $92 million reduction, or 13.5 percent. The staff's proposal would move Western Resources closer to equalizing the rates charged by KPL and KGE, a goal of officials in south^central Kansas, particularly Wichita. Western earns an 11.1 percent profit on its electric operations, but the company wants to increase it to 12.75 percent. KCC staff recommended decreasing what the company earns to 10.4 percent profit. "The role of the KCC staff is to represent the overall public interest, taking into consideration the needs of both ratepayers and shareholders," the KCC said Friday in a release. Western said Friday the company needed the rate increase to recover investments in new power plants and recover higher operating and maintenance costs. Spokeswoman Kim Gronniger said Friday the company didn't take the KCC staff's position as a sign the commission was not likely to grant its request. "This is just one step in a very lengthy process, and we remain hopeful," Gronniger said. Western has until April 24 to file a rebuttal to the KCC documents filed Friday, Gronniger said. Public hearings are scheduled to begin Wednesday in Wichita at 7 p.m., with hearings to follow in Salina on April 17, Topeka on April 19 and Pittsburg on April 26. A technical evidentiary hearing is scheduled for May 17 and the commission's office in Topeka. Biggest utility files for bankruptcy Pacific Gas & Electric seeking protection from creditors By The Associated Press SAN FRANCISCO — Pushed over the edge by the state's disastrous attempt at deregulation, California's biggest utility filed for bankruptcy protection Friday in a move that will not turn out the lights but could mean political and financial turmoil for years to come. Pacific Gas & Electric sought Chapter 11 protection from its creditors, saying efforts by Gov. Gray Davis and state officials to ease the crisis had gone nowhere. "The regulatory and political processes have failed us, and now we are turning to the court," said Robert D. Glynn Jr., chairman of corporate par- T COLORADO PLANE CRASH ent PG&E Corp. "We expect the court will provide .the venue needed to reach a solution." The 13 million people served by the utility probably will be among the least affected, since bankruptcy proceedings allow companies to continue operating while they try to solve their financial problems under the supervision of a federal judge. But lenders, bondholders and wholesale power suppliers may have to write off billions of dollars in losses, and the move could affect more than 20,000 utility employees across Central and Northern California. The company's financial reputation also could be damaged for years, making it more difficult to buy power and raise money to upgrade transmission lines and plants. Davis, who has been sharply criticized by fellow Democrats as well as Republicans for his handling of the crisis, did not immediately comment on the bankruptcy filing. A spokesman said it was a surprise. A day earlier, Davis proposed giving California's cash- strapped utilities a share of a record rate increase approved last week. He has also tried to buy utilities' transmission lines, which would provide much-needed billions. After listening to Davis' speech Thursday night, PG&E executives said they concluded there was little hope of getting relief from the state. PG&E cited "unreimbursed energy costs, which are now increasing by more than $300 million per month," bad state regulatory decisions and the "unmistakable fact that negotiations with Gov. Gray Davis and his representatives are going nowhere." Southern California Edison, the state's second-largest utility, said it has no immediate plans to seek bankruptcy protection. The two utilities have been pinched for months by skyrocketing wholesale power prices and the state's 1996 deregulation law, which bars them from passing those costs on to customers. The two utilities say they have lost more than $13 billion since June and are having trouble buying power and natural gas because of their credit is so poor. The two utilities had warned for months that they were sliding toward bankruptcy And the crisis led to rolling blackouts over four days in January and March as electricity supplies dwindled to nearly nothing. The state has stepped in and spent $4.7 billion since January to buy power for the utilities. Alarm sounded before Aspen crash All 18 people on board chartered flight were killed By The Associated Press WASHINGTON — An alarm warning the pilot that his plane was descending too fast sounded shortly before the private jet crashed during an approach to the Aspen, Colo., airport, investigators revealed Friday All 18 people on board the chartered Gulfstream III were killed when the plane smashed into a hillside near the Colorado resort community on March 29. About 12 seconds before the crash, an electronic "sink rate" alarm sounded, according to a summary of a transcript from the cockpit voice record provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Moments before the crash another alarm sounded indicating the plane was turning too steeply, the NTSB said. The NTSB said the recording "did not appear to contain evidence of aircraft malfunction." Shelly Simi, spokeswoman for the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, said the first alarm indicates the plane is descending at a rate exceeding preset parameters. "It doesn't necessarily mean it's wrong. It's just unusual," Simi said. As the plane descended below 200 feet, the pilot apparently tried to turn sharply, causing the plane's "bank angle" alarm to sound just before the recording ended, according to the NTSB. The agency's Cockpit Voice Recorder Group met Tuesday and Wednesday to screen the tape, which lasted just under 32 minutes. It released a summary on Friday. A complete transcript will be released later. The plane had been chartered to carry passengers from Los Angeles to Aspen for a birthday party when it slammed into the snowy hillside and erupted in flames at Budget / State needs more revenue FROM PAGE A1 It holds most of the state's tax revenues and is the largest source of money for government programs. The increase would be $230 million, or 5.2 percent. But without increasing taxes. or raiding other funds, the state would be able to increase its spending by $45 million — or only 1 percent. The fact that general fund appropriations still would be greater than in fiscal 2001 has some legislators, particularly conservative Republicans, looking for savings. "It's a cut in the increase, not a cut in spending," said Rep. Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, an Appropriations Committee member. But some legislators want to increase spending on public schools, and the state is obligated to keep up with the demand for some social services. Graves also proposed a 3 percent pay raise for government workers. The pressure for new spending has some legislators looking for ways to raise money "The Legislature is still in shock," Nichols said. "It'll take a few days before some of the ideas are narrowed down." In the Senate, Democrats are mulling a proposal to repeal a 1998 tax cut on the estates passed onto "strangers in blood," such as nieces and nephews, to raise $28 million. Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, was researching proposals to increase income taxes on families with incomes above $120,000, to raise as much as $60 million. And Hensley and other senators believe the state's budget situation makes a proposal to legalize slot machines at dog and horse racing tracks more attractive. The Senate rejected the idea two weeks ago. In other action Thursday: • The Senate Education Committee begin paring back a two- year, $263 million plan that the full Senate had sent back for revisions. • The Senate easily approved a bill that further protects the privacy of consumers' financial and health information. AjN /IIL6ST0Ne_ chimney service and stove store 245 S. 5th, Salina 823-9000 Rebuilt KJbrbys ! starting from ^69^ •Kirbybags •Kirby shampoo •Kirby belts •Kirby Service (Home of all your Kirby needs.) ^>.^^ r^ltfAvest Sewlnfi &i ^qcuw>^ Center « 340 S. Broadway, Salina (785) 825-0451 • 1-800-864-4451 "Hometown Service" wherever you drive Bary Martin, Agent 1023 Greeley Ave., Salina 110 N.Concord, Minneapolis state Farm Insurance Companies»Home Offices: Bloominglon, Illinois 785-825-0555 Americana Accessory Pieces and Pictures Steinhauser's 109 NW 3rd. St., Abilene 785-263-1401 /1-800-321-7668 about 7 p.m. Visibility was poor at the time, with light snow falling. On the plane's final approach, the crew asked the control tower if the runway lights were turned all the way up, according to the NTSB. The tower replied the lights were on high power and later asked if the crew could see the runway The crew said the runway was in sight and began the descent. On Thursday, officials at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport said the plane's engines were set at full power and the landing gear was up, indicating the pilot may have been trying to abort the landing. Home Decor • Decorate your mantle or a || long shelf! • Many styles to choose from! FOREVER OAK ' Handcrafted Oak Furniture & Accents " 619 E. Crawford, Salina • 800-864-4429 • 823-9729 Monday-Friday 10-6, Saturday 10-4 • A bill to allow the state to take possession of the Emporia home of legendary editor William Allen White went to Graves. • The Senate approved a bill permitting the State Fair to undertake a $36.1 million, 10-year capital improvements plan. Are You At Risic For Osteoporosis? For a bone density screening, Call 827-aa55 (for an appointment) April a, 5,6 April? Aprils B&K People Helping PeopU...Live Healthier Lives — _ 827-4455/ 1-800-432-0224 PRESCRIPTION SHOP^'^'^" Salina Journal www.saljournal.corn 'Onllni Comeclmgmimttmi(ies\mtVir\f<mmli(m SUPERIOR ROOFING is now teamed up with S?''^-: Roofing and Supply. Workers compensation, bond< 1 arid insured. Residential Specialists. When you call Superior Roofing Co., you have 50 years of combined experience working for you. You want quality at a fair price? Call Superior Roofing. We do all residential roofing and 2% commercial. Call 827-1217 for your QQQ free estimate. Superior Roofing, member of the 1^ Better Business Bureau and the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce. HEUBED tOUTHUfTCEHTHUt WESTERHKANIU Old Country Store South of 1-70 on Ninth St. In Aon' qfthtBetl Vfaltnt Mtd-Amtrtca lim Hours: Tues<lay- Saturday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m Sunday 1 p.m. - S p.m. Closed Mondays 785-823-2670 APRIL IS NATIONAL FLOOR COVERING MONTH! Remembert We'll meet or beat any local competitive price! /{i SUNFLOWER GRPSTONE 2559 Market Place • 1/2 Mile North of Wal-Mart on 9th st. 825-6260 / 1 -800-748-7493 Haurt:Mcin<iay & Thursday 9-7, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday 9-5:30, Closed Sunday. Financing Available. Change Russells Neighborhood Grill at the Phoenix NOW OPEN! Featuring old Russell family recipes. Affordable prices with an elegant atmosphere. Only downtown location serving a lunch buffet w/salad bar. • Special Sunday Buffet • Full Service menu • Specialty Steaks Weekdays 10:30 a.m.-9:00 p.m. / Sundays 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Corner of 5th & Iron / Salina / 785-493-0304

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