Kansas Electric Power Cooperative, Inc. Appoints Interim EVP and CEO

Steve Foss

The Kansas Electric Power Cooperative board of trustees appointed Steven O. Foss as interim executive vice president and CEO.

Foss replaces Suzanne Lane, who has served as KEPCo’s EVP and CEO since October 2018. 

“We extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Suzanne,” said Mike Morton, KEPCo’s board president. “Her tireless service and leadership to KEPCo for the past five plus years will be greatly missed.”

Foss previously served as CEO of FreeState Electric Cooperative until his retirement in January 2022. “Steve’s background as CEO of a member-owner of KEPCo and serving in leadership positions on KEPCo’s board make him ideally suited to serve in this interim role, and the board and I have complete faith in his ability to lead KEPCo and meet the needs of our members until a permanent successor is named,” said Morton.

KEPCo will begin a national search for its next EVP and CEO as soon as possible.

Furnace filter replacement

Generating Safety:

Spring into Safety

Although the risks associated with dangerous winter weather are behind us, spring has its own set of conditions to consider. Please review the tips below to keep you and your family safe as we transition into the new season.

  •  Discard any old paint cans and paint thinners, in addition to old newspapers and magazines that accumulated over the winter months.
  • Change the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Clean the dust covers of carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Review your emergency plan with each member of the family in the event of a fire or tornado.
  • Clean or replace your furnace filter.
  • Grease can accumulate on your oven hood. Thoroughly cleaning this is one way to keep flames from spreading should a fire break out.
  • Check all fire extinguisher needle indicators and dates to be sure they are in working order.
  • Clean around your dryer and look closely for any lint or debris that has accumulated in the area. An accumulation of lint can lead to a fire.
  • Check all extension cords for fraying and ensure that wires are not visible.
  • Check your lawn equipment for gas and oil leaks.
  • If your vehicle needs an oil change, have the mechanic check your battery, tires, windshield wipers, coolant, and alignment, to make sure your vehicle survived winter.

2024 Legislative Review

Kansas Capitol

The 2024 legislative session has not been as “bill-laden” as the 2023 session. At this time last year, there were 23 bills of interest to electric cooperatives, compared to the 12 bills KEPCo has followed this year. 

the thPlus, there has been a change from bills focused on retail rates to a number of bills this year intended to safeguard reliability and resource adequacy.

Throughout the session, KEPCo worked collaboratively and cooperatively with KEC, Midwest Energy, and Sunflower by examining and analyzing bills, providing input for the preparation of testimony, and lobbying on bills of interest. These combined efforts resulted in positive outcomes on bills impacting electric cooperatives.

During KEC’s Day at the Capitol, KEPCo government affairs staff met with House Energy Chairman Leo Delperdang and Senate Utilities Chairman Michael Fagg, to introduce them KEPCo and discuss bills being debated in both committees. Later in the same week, KEPCo gave a presentation to the Senate Utilities Committee that included an overview of KEPCo, its generation mix, the need for reliable and affordable rates, particularly in rural Kansas, and other issues cooperatives are facing today. KEPCo was joined by representatives from KEC and Sunflower, each giving presentations regarding topics of interest for their respective companies.

“KEPCo always appreciates the opportunity to highlight the commitment of electric cooperatives to provide reliable and affordable electric service to rural Kansans. And this opportunity was particularly well-timed given the reliability-related bills being considering this session at the state and federal levels,” said Wages.

Below is a list of the bills the KEPCo government affairs staff has followed this session and a brief synopsis and status of each bill at the time of this publication. (Click on the + to the right of each bill to view a summary.)

House Bill (HB) 2527

As amended, this bill would create new definitions and modify existing definitions pertaining to cost recovery and rate making procedures before the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC). The bill would establish several cost recovery mechanisms for the construction of dispatchable electric generation facilities and modify existing statutes pertaining to economic development rates, among other technical amendments. The bill was heard in the House Energy Committee and interested parties met the following week to amend the bill, primarily removing the return on equity section of the bill and inserting consumer protections. The amended bill was offered in the committee in early March and the amended bill was passed favorably by the committee and then was passed favorably by the House as a whole. The bill was then heard by the Senate Utilities Committee. The committee worked and took final action on the bill. After adopting an additional amendment, the committee recommended the bill favorably as amended.

HB 2588/Senate Bill (SB) 422

HB 2588 alters the net metering statute applicable to investor-owned utilities by increasing the system capacity and maximum installation size limitations and expanding the definition of “appropriately sized,” among other changes and new provisions. This compromise bill is a product of Evergy’s discussions with solar entities over the interim session. The bill passed favorably by the House Energy Committee and was unanimously passed by the House as a whole. The bill was subsequently heard in the Senate Utilities Committee, and with one friendly amendment, was passed favorably by the committee.

HB 2589

This bill pertains to utility pole-mounted law enforcement equipment. As amended, the bill would authorize public utilities to enter into pole attachment agreements to allow law enforcement agencies to install equipment such as video cameras to utility poles located in the public right-of-way. The bill also would exempt the public utilities from civil liability. The bill was passed favorably by the House Energy Committee but was not voted on by the House as a whole.

HB 2591

This bill would exempt the KCC from the Kansas Open Meetings Act for matters relating to docketed proceedings before the KCC. It also would prohibit ex parte communications in all KCC proceedings and would discharge KCC staff and the Office of General Counsel from being considered parties to any proceeding before the KCC. The bill passed favorably by the House Energy Committee but was not passed favorably by the House as a whole.

HB 2597

This bill would extend the timelines for the KCC to make a determination regarding rate-making treatment for electric generating or transmission facilities from 180 days to 240 days. The bill was heard in the House Energy Committee but was not worked. The provisions of the bill were amended into HB 2527.

Sub. for HB 2609

The bill, introduced by Midwest Energy, would extend the property tax exemption for certain electric generation property, including new electric generation facilities, additions to electric generation facilities, and new pollution-control devices constructed and installed after January 1, 2025. The property tax exemption would apply for ten taxable years following the commencement of construction or installation of the facilities. The bill was heard in the House Tax Committee and an amendment was made to include HB 2768 into HB 2609. The bill advanced favorably out of the committee.

HB 2620/SB 456

The bill would extend the timelines for the KCC to make a determination regarding rate-making treatment for electric generating or transmission facilities. The bill also would establish a rebuttable presumption that a fossil fuel-fired electric generating unit shall not be retired and prohibit the KCC from authorizing the retirement of such an electric generating unit unless the utility overcomes such presumption with sufficient evidence. The bill also would require the KCC to report annually to the Kansas Legislature on requests to retire such units.

HB 2621/SB 457

The bill prohibits public utilities from exercising the right of eminent domain for the siting or placement of solar facilities. The bill was passed favorably by the Senate Utilities Committee.

HB 2736

The bill provides guidelines for the decommissioning of certain electric generation facilities, requiring a utility to replace a closed or decommissioned facility with an equivalent amount of reliable and readily dispatchable electric generation. The bill was not heard.

HB 2768

The bill would provide a property tax exemption for new electric generation facilities and new pollution control devices and additions constructed or installed at electric generation facilities, and would remove the requirement that the KCC disallow cost recovery for certain baseload facilities that provide excess capacity, among other related provisions. The bill was amended into HB 2609.

SB 443

The bill would require landowners whose land is taken by eminent domain for electric transmission lines to be compensated at not less than 150% of fair market value. The bill was not heard.

SB 455

The bill would allow the recovery of coal-fired and nuclear generating facilities in the utility’s rate base, even if operating at less than full capacity, to provide greater certainty that generating capacity will be available to provide essential service to customers, including during extreme weather events. The bill was heard in the Senate Utilities Committee and an amendment was offered combining SB 455 and SB 456 into one bill. The consolidated bill was passed as amended by the committee and the Senate as a whole. The bill was next heard in the House Energy Committee and a friendly amendment was offered by the KCC.

5-Star Co-op Badge

KEPCo Earns 5-Star Co-op Designation

KEPCo has been named a 5-Star Co-op by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. The 5-star designation recognizes KEPCo’s high level of participation in Co-ops Vote, a national get-out-and-vote campaign. 

The non-partisan campaign seeks to engage voters and promote civic engagement in rural communities across the country.

Five-star status marks the highest level of engagement in Co-ops Vote and is achieved when a participating co-op completes at least five activities under the program. KEPCo earned this distinction by co-hosting a legislative tour of the SPP, publishing an article in the KEPCo Newsmaker, attending and participating in seven Co-ops Vote events, distributing materials at the Co-ops Vote events, developing a political game plan, and posting Co-ops Vote information on KEPCo’s website.

 “Co-ops Vote is a program designed to inform cooperative members on the key issues facing electric co-ops and achieving the 5-Star Co-op designation illustrates KEPCo’s commitment to support advocacy efforts in rural Kansas,” said Susan Cunningham, KEPCo SVP and General Counsel. “It is important for co-op voters to be informed voters. KEPCo is pleased to participate in activities that assist co-op members in understanding the unique issues their communities encounter so the members, in turn, can speak up and advocate on these issues with their elected officials,” said Cunningham.

Eric Wylie

KEPCo Hires Engineer

KEPCo has hired Eric Wylie as a Senior Engineer. Eric is originally from Smithville, Mississippi, and graduated from Mississippi State University with a degree in electrical engineering.

Eric has 18 years of experience as an electrical engineer, which includes positions at Entergy, FreeState Electric Co-op, and ElectriComm, Inc.

Eric is married to Alicia and they have a 12-year-old son, Easton.

In his spare time, Eric volunteers with the Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, is on the Genesis Christian Academy School Board and the school’s Finance Committee.

Welcome to KEPCo, Eric!

KEPCo Employees Volunteering 2023

KEPCo Supports Local Charities

In 2023, through KEPCo’s Charitable Giving Program, KEPCo and KEPCo staff, along with a CoBank matching contribution, donated over $24,000 to local and regional charities. 

The charities chosen by KEPCo staff were the Topeka Rescue Mission, Court Appointed Special Advocates, Ronald McDonald House, and TARC.

In addition to supporting charitable organizations, KEPCo staff chose to support three local senior adults needing assistance during the holiday season by adopting the individuals through the United Way Christmas Bureau.

 “2023 was a year when each of us felt the strain of increased costs in the price of food, rent, clothing, and other necessities. Charitable organizations and those in need felt the strain even more, particularly during the holiday season. KEPCo and its staff are pleased to support agencies that provide valuable community services during the holiday season and throughout the year,” said Susan Cunningham, KEPCo SVP and General Counsel.