TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Attorney General Derek Schmidt said Monday that sharp spikes in natural gas prices last winter appear to violate Kansas law and he is seeking outside legal help to investigate them.
Schmidt’s office said it is looking to retain a law firm with expertise in the natural gas marketplace to help with the probe and any potential civil litigation aimed at enforcing the state’s anti-profiteering law.
His office opened an investigation in February to determine whether the price increases violate state law, Schmidt said.
“State law prohibits ‘unjustified’ price increases for ‘necessary’ goods and services during a declared state of disaster emergency, and on their face these increases appear to violate Kansas law,” Schmidt said in a news release. “Our investigation has reached a point where additional resources and expertise in the complicated natural gas marketplace are required.”
Kansas utility regulators have decided they can’t investigate whether natural gas utilities were price-gouged by interstate suppliers. Instead, the Kansas Corporation Commission is concentrating its efforts on creating payment plans for customers, the Wichita Eagle reported.
Utilities are proposing to spread those costs over a five to 10 years to avoid a massive rate shock for consumers.