Kansas energy regulators are asking whether billions of dollars in planned energy projects by a company serving 1.6 million customers in Kansas and Missouri will lead to unnecessary electric rate increases.

The Kansas Corporation Commission on Tuesday ordered Evergy to explain by Feb. 28 the $10.4 billion in expenditures it plans through 2025, the Lawrence Journal-World reports.

The state’s chief utility regulator issued the order after a months-long review of a “sustainability transformation plan” that Evergy announced last year. Evergy has said the plan is needed to improve reliability of its electric service and to better position the company for the future. Others argue that the plan was too heavily influenced by activist investor Elliott Management, which owns hundreds of millions of dollars in Evergy stock and is simply seeking to boost the company’s stock value.

The commission did not rule on the Evergy transformation plan and took no action to stop its implementation. The KCC board told Evergy not to prioritize shareholder interests over ratepayer interests.

The Kansas Industrial Consumers Group says Evergy's plan would mean a 10% to 11% rate increase by 2024.

Evergy says the group is wrong, and noted residential rates decreased 6.5% and industrial rates decreased 1.8% from 2017 to 2019.

A spokeswoman for Evergy said the company is reviewing the KCC’s most recent order as it determines next steps.

 St. Louis aldermen move to repeal city marijuana ordinance

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen on Tuesday voted to repeal city ordinances that make it illegal to possess small amounts of marijuana.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that in addition to repealing city ordinances, the bill bars police from enforcing state and federal laws against possession of small amounts or of marijuana paraphernalia, with certain exceptions. Mayor Tishaura Jones in a statement said she will sign it as soon as it reaches her desk.

“Let me be clear: Incarcerating people for marijuana-related, low-level offenses does not make our neighborhoods safer," Jones said. “Needless contact with the prison system harms families and communities across our city.”

Jones said the bill removes an unjust and discriminatory policy. She said nearly 600 people have been arrested in St. Louis on marijuana charges in the past three years, and nearly 500 of them were Black.

Man sentenced to 25 years for killing inside restaurant

A man who fatally shot his cousin in the kitchen of a Kansas City-area Thai restaurant has been sentenced to 25 years in prison.

The Kansas City Star reports that 27-year-old Porntrep Phonjaroen of Lee's Summit was sentenced Tuesday. He pleaded guilty in May to second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the 2019 killing of 23-year-old Wasinee Sankra.

The shooting happened in the Independence location of Thai Spice. Police called to the scene found Sankra on the ground in the kitchen. She had been shot in the head and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Customers were inside the store at the time of the shooting.

$3 million lottery prize is Missouri couple's second big win

An eastern Missouri couple recently won a $3 million lottery prize — and it wasn't the first time they've claimed a big lottery win.

The Missouri Lottery says the couple from Washington County, who asked not to be identified, purchased the winning ticket for the “Big Riches” scratcher game at the Short Stop Convenience Shop in Potosi while recently picking up groceries. They scratched off the ticket inside the store and celebrated with a hug.

Winning never gets old. The same couple won a $250,000 lottery prize a few years ago.

“It was just like God blessed us again!” one of the winners said.

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