Atmospheric Thrusters reduce energy cost & add kerosene cost
Have it so Atmospheric Thrusters work like real Jet engines, and require a semi-cheap kerosene cost. To be efficient we can have it so. So much gravel has to sifted in order to generate kerosene. Yes it's cheesy, but so is Atmospheric Engines powered by pure electricity, which makes less sense Engineering wise.
Basically, make Atmospheric Thrusters demand less electricity in exchange for a fuel use. This will make base development less arbitrary and more thoughtful.