SOURCE: Westar Energy, Inc.

January 18, 2008 17:07 ET

Westar Energy Estimates Storm Costs at About $73 Million to $85 Million

TOPEKA, KS--(Marketwire - January 18, 2008) - Having concluded its record storm restoration efforts, Westar Energy, Inc. (NYSE: WR) estimates the total cost of last month's massive ice storm, which impacted most of the utility's service territory, between $73 million and $85 million, with just more than 80 percent related to maintenance expense and the balance consisting of new capital investment.

"The widespread nature of this storm has caused its cost to be unparalleled in our history. About thirty percent of our customers experienced outages, many more than once while the ice kept doing its damage. In some areas, power was wiped out to entire communities," said Bill Moore, president and chief executive officer. "The dedication of employees and guest line and tree crews, as well as the patience of our customers enabled us to make repairs and restore power within 10 days, even to the hardest hit areas. Crews were able to complete their hard work and still make it home for the holidays."

About 204,000 customers lost power because of the storm. Westar Energy completed about 414,800 electric service restorations related to the storm because many customers experienced multiple outages.

The first wave hit Westar's southeast region on Dec. 9. The second wave pummeled the rest of the service territory on Dec. 10. Some of the hardest hit areas include the following serving offices where 65 percent or more of customers were affected:

       Serving     Total number of      Number of customers     Percentage
       Office      customers served    affected by the storm
    --  Abilene            8,642                 8,482              98.1
    --  Atchison          10,501                 8,440              80.4
    --  Hiawatha           4,173                 4,128              98.9
    --  Hutchinson        27,602                20,660              74.8
    --  Junction City     11,222                10,014              89.2
    --  Manhattan         30,936                26,696              86.3
    --  Marysville         7,626                 6,120              80.3
    --  Pittsburg         16,076                12,553              78.1
    --  Salina            28,612                19,946              69.7

By Dec. 20, power was restored to all customers who could receive power. Some customers remained who needed to call an electrician to make repairs before power could safely be returned to their home or business.

A significant portion of the company's electric distribution system sustained damage. Eighty-two transmission circuits and 560 distribution circuits required repair. During the course of the storm restoration, Westar Energy repaired or replaced 17,965 service lines, which span from the distribution line to the customer's home or business; 7,872 spans of primary and secondary lines, which carry electricity into neighborhoods; 5,401 fuses; 2,090 power poles; and a variety of other equipment.

More than 1,000 Westar employees were involved with restoration efforts in various facets including line personnel, management, support, dispatch, and contact center employees. Westar said that it even enlisted the help of a few retirees. In addition, 1,995 line workers from other states and 1,254 tree clearance personnel assisted with restoring power. Assisting crews came from 20 states -- as far away as the East Coast.

Westar Energy will seek an order from the Kansas Corporation Commission that will eventually allow it to recover the costs related to the storm, something that is consistent with long-standing practice.

Westar Energy, Inc. (NYSE: WR) is the largest electric utility in Kansas, providing electric service to about 674,000 customers in the state. Westar Energy has about 6,100 megawatts of electric generation capacity and operates and coordinates approximately 33,000 miles of electric distribution and transmission lines. For more information about Westar Energy, visit us on the Internet at

Forward-looking statements: Certain matters discussed in this news release are "forward-looking statements." The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 has established that these statements qualify for safe harbors from liability. Forward-looking statements may include words like "believe," "anticipate," "target," "expect," "pro forma," "estimate," "intend," "guidance" or words of similar meaning. Forward-looking statements describe future plans, objectives, expectations or goals. Although Westar Energy believes that its expectations are based on reasonable assumptions, all forward-looking statements involve risk and uncertainty. Therefore, actual results could vary materially from what we expect. Please review our Form 10-Q for the period ended Sept. 30, 2007 for important risk factors that could cause results to differ materially from those in any such forward-looking statements. Any forward-looking statement speaks only as of the date such statement was made, and the company does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statement to reflect events or circumstances after the date on which such statement was made except as required by applicable laws or regulations.

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