July 14, 2007

Great Wolf Lodge Alleges in Lawsuit That BPU is Overcharging for Electricity

By Robert A. Cronkleton, The Kansas City Star, Mo.

Jul. 14--The owner of the Great Wolf Lodge hotel and water resort claims it is being overcharged for electricity.

Great Wolf Kansas SPE LLC filed a lawsuit last week against the Board of Public Utilities in Kansas City, Kan., claiming the utility overcharged the company by more than $75,000.

The lawsuit also claims that the BPU has threatened to cut power to the hotel and water resort Monday for not paying the disputed part of its latest bill.

Susan Allen, a spokeswoman for the BPU, said the utility could not comment on the lawsuit but added that the utility would not cut off the resort's power.

Said Jennifer Beranek, a Great Wolf spokeswoman: "We were prepared to seek an emergency injunction in court to prevent that from happening if we had to."

The lawsuit was filed in Wyandotte County District Court.

According to the filing, Great Wolf's predecessor, Great Lakes Companies Inc., entered into a contract with the BPU in July 2002 for the BPU to provide electricity to the resort.

In negotiations, BPU offered a rate based on Great Wolf installing an all-electric facility rather than one powered by both electricity and natural gas.

The company built an all-electric resort in the Village West development, even though its other resorts use both natural gas and electricity, according to the lawsuit.

Wisconsin-based Great Wolf claims that since the BPU started providing electricity in August 2003, every month the BPU has incorrectly calculated one or more elements of the bill. That resulted in charges that exceed the contracted amount, the company says.

Great Wolf claims that it paid its bills until May, but the utility has refused to return the overcharges.

In response, Great Wolf claims, it began withholding the disputed amount, which the contract allows.

However, the lawsuit says, the BPU assessed a late charge and threatened to disconnect service if payment is not made by Monday.

Great Wolf claims that it has been harmed because it is not receiving the prices it bargained for and it cannot mitigate its energy costs by balancing use of natural gas and electricity.

To reach Robert A. Cronkleton, call 816-234-5994 or send e-mail to [email protected]


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