KCP&L’s parent company reports profit increase

Higher electricity rates led to higher profits for Great Plains Energy in the fourth quarter and all of 2012.

The parent company of Kansas City Power & Light on Thursday reported fourth-quarter net income of $4.3 million, up from $1.7 million in the final three months of 2011.

For the year, Great Plains earned $198.3 million, an improvement of nearly $26 million from 2011.

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

The Kansas City-based utility said it benefited in 2012 from a full year of rate increases in Missouri and Kansas, some of which had taken effect about midway through 2011.

In Missouri, regulators approved an average 5.2 percent increase in electricity rates in 2011 for its Kansas City customers, while rates increased 4.5 percent in Kansas that year. Rates also increased for its customers in areas it acquired when it bought the Aquila power company and St. Joseph Light & Power.

The weather helped and hurt the company’s bottom line, as the demand for electricity during last summer’s scorching heat wave was partly offset by the milder winter.

Increased costs associated with operating the Wolf Creek nuclear power plant near Burlington, Kan., also cut into profits last year, Great Plains said. The utility and Topeka-based Westar Energy are the majority owners of Wolf Creek.

“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.

Great Plains’ electric utility business, which includes Kansas City Power & Light, generated net income of $216.6 million last year. The company’s non-regulated business and other operations lost $16.7 million in 2012.

For 2013, Great Plains said it expects earnings to be in the range of $1.44 to $1.64 per share, up from 2012 earnings per share of $1.35. Regulators last year approved additional rate increases in Missouri and Kansas that took effect in January 2013.

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