Governor Kelly to sign bill to help cities facing sky-high energy costs due to winter storm
TOPEKA, Kansas (KSNT) – Governor Laura Kelly announced she will sign a bill Kansas lawmakers pushed forward on Wednesday that is expected to help cities facing high energy costs due to the recent winter storm.
“We are taking proactive steps to address the issue and are considering every tool to help Kansans and communities fight these outbreaks,” Kelly said at a press conference.
State lawmakers took swift action on the bill, with the House and Senate voting to pass the bill favorably. The measure creates a low-interest loan program for cities facing high energy costs due to extreme winter conditions in February.
“This is what government should be,” said Representative Rui Xu, D-Westwood. “This is what good government looks like. Everyone works together quickly to help resolve a problem.
Representative Xu and other lawmakers rushed the bill, holding hearings on the measure on Wednesday morning, then voting to pass the bill the same day.
The utility’s low-interest loan program allows cities to apply to the state treasurer’s office for loans from unencumbered public funds for extraordinary costs of electricity or natural gas. In one example, the town of Winfield said it paid $ 10 million in natural gas expenses over six days of cold temperatures.
State lawmakers say their top priority is to get help from these cities as soon as possible.
“It was just imperative, because an individual who normally had an electric bill of $ 150 could end up being an electric bill of over $ 1000, even more for businesses,” said representative Jim Kelly, D-Westwood.
In February, the state faced an arctic climate so cold it resulted in power outages to help conserve energy and natural gas.
Now, Kansas communities that receive their utilities from an unregulated utility are seeing sky-high bills, costing some cities hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs.
Lawmakers hope the new measure will help offset the sky-high prices.
“This loan program is very important to our cities,” said Governor Kelly. “It gives them the immediate relief they need to avoid dire financial decisions, as we seek other long-term solutions.”
The governor said she was working with the state treasurer’s office to ensure the money could be administered immediately. Kelly also pushed for a federal investigation to help the state deal with future emergencies. It has also prompted other heads of state, like US Senator Jerry Moran, to consider federal aid options.
“Right now we’re certainly in talks with the Kansas Corporations Commission, with the Association of Communities, we’ve been talking to mayors and officials all over Kansas, from a Washington DC perspective, looking to see if LIHEAP, funding available to pay utility bills in the winter, might be available for this. We also spoke with FEMA to see if there is a request from the state of Kansas for a disaster declaration, to see what FEMA could provide.
SEN from the United States. JERRY MORAN
One of the resources for Kansans facing high energy costs includes the Low Income Energy Assistance Program, LIEAP, which helps eligible households pay part of their household energy costs by offering them a one-time benefit per year.