Public Hearings Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Public Hearing?
Public hearings provide an opportunity to learn more about a utility company's proposal to change its services, rates or practices. When the Commission is considering amendment to or new rules and regulations, a public hearing provides the public an opportunity to make comments as well.
At the hearing, members of the public are invited to speak before the Commission expressing their views on the case or the proposed rules and regulations. In utility rate or siting cases, statements made in the public comments portion of the hearing are filed in the case docket and are considered by Commissioners when deciding the outcome of the case. For rules and regulations, public comments are made part of the record, considered by the Commission while the proposal is pending and are maintained for a minimum of three years after the date of adoption.
A public hearing is not required by law when a utility requests a rate increase, but is generally held in significant rate cases. A public hearing is required by law in siting cases when a utility company requests permission to construct or alter transmission lines greater than 230 kilovolts and more than five miles in length. Proposed rules and regulations also require a public hearing.
What happens when I arrive at the hearing?
The format of each public hearing may vary based on the individual circumstances of the case. Generally, you will be greeted by a member of the KCC staff, given literature on the case or proposed rules and regulations, and the opportunity to sign up to speak before the Commission. You will not be sworn in prior to speaking, but you will be required to give your name and city of residence and your comments will be documented by a court reporter.
If there are large numbers of people signed up to speak, the Commission may put a time limit on the length of individual comments so as many people as possible have the opportunity to express their views.
What is the format of the meeting?
The Commission Chairperson will open the meeting and review the agenda. The agenda may vary depending on the type of case or for the proposed rules and regulations. Each public hearing may proceed in differing formats, but you may expect to find any of the following:
- For utility rate and siting cases, brief informational presentations by the utility, a representative of the Citizens' Utility Ratepayer Board and the Kansas Corporation Commission staff explain their respective positions on the request.
- For proposed rules and regulations, the Kansas Corporation Commission staff will give a brief overview explaining the proposal.
- For utility rate and siting cases only, a question and answer period where members of the public can ask questions of presenters. As with public comments, a time limit may be imposed to keep the proceeding on schedule.
- A public comment period at which time those who have signed up to speak will be called to the podium to address the Commission. As stated earlier, speakers may be given a time limit if large numbers of people have expressed interest in speaking.
Note: In utility rate and siting cases, Commissioners are present for the opening of the meeting and public comments, but do not remain in the room for the informational presentations or question and answer period.
Any person requiring special accommodations at the hearing under the Americans with Disabilities Act needs to provide notice to the Commission at least 10 days prior to the scheduled hearing by calling: 1-800-662-0027 or 785-271-3140.
Can I watch public hearings on utility rate or siting cases from home if I cannot attend?
Yes. Public hearings are broadcast on the KCC's YouTube channel making it possible for those who cannot attend to watch the hearing live. In addition, the hearings will be recorded and available on YouTube for those who prefer to watch at a later time.