There are no seats left inside a meeting at the WSU Hughes Metroplex Monday night, where Westar Energy hears from customers about its proposed rate increase.
The Kansas Corporation Commission has to sign off on the hike.
Eyewitness News Reporter Michael Schwanke is at the meeting. Expect updates on kwch.com and on the air.
Westar customers are speaking out about proposed rate hikes, so are Sedgwick County Commissioners.
The energy company wants home owners and small businesses to pay more each month, but big companies would see lower costs under this plan.
An average homeowner would see about a 9% increase under this plan, which would add up to about $7.50 more per month for most people.
Small businesses should see bills go up just over 6%, but large industrial customers and those under special use contracts with Westar would see rates go down anywhere from 8% to 15%.
"At least wait on the increases for now until the small businesses can be built back up," said Wichita customer Mark Suffield. "We can start building up the economy and people start going back to work."
"It's pay check to pay check I'd say for more than half of the country, let alone in Wichita. I don't think any excuse they could give us right now is justifiable," said Wichita customer Leslie Namee.
Sedgwick County Commissioners agree. They sent a letter to the Kansas Corporation Commission because it will rule on Westar's request. The letter said don't do it because the economy is still hurting and Commissioners say Westar has asked for rate hikes 19 times since 2009.
Westar Vice President of Regulatory Affairs says the company needs more money to make improvements to help meet new federal regulations, pay for everyday operating costs and stay competitive with the region.
"Right now residential and small commercial are well below the national averages as far as rates are concerned," said Westar's Jeff Martin. "I know it may not be the right time, I understand that, but if we don't fix this we could get into larger issues down the road."
If the KCC approves the new rate hikes, bills would go up at the end of this year, or in early 2014.
Before the KCC rules, it wants to hear from customers. A rate hike public hearing in Wichita is set for Monday at 6pm at the WSU Hughes Metroplex near 29th and Oliver.