HAYS, Kan. (KSNW) – The recent arctic blast led to skyrocketing energy demands across the midwest and now many customers are fearing skyrocketing bills.
Midwest Energy, Inc. is a company that provides gas and electric services to a large portion of western Kansas. Following the recent weeks’ weather and events, the company had hundreds of concerned customers reach out to ask if they too could expect higher bills in the coming months and if they needed to prepare for a financial hit.
In response to the calls, company CEO Patrick Parke said, “We will stand with our customers.”
He says the last few weeks have been rather uncommon, and although the company in the past has faced similar environmental changes, the short period of time in which the recent storm happened, is a situation that many energy employers haven’t seen in their careers.
Parke says in the first part of February, the company sold 40% more gas compared to this time last year. “We are seeing numbers around the country that even small utilities are dealing with seven and eight-digit increases in energy bills just for a single month,” Parke said.
But even with the increase, Parke says the company will not be sending homeowners unpayable bills. “We are planning to spread any increased costs over several months or even years if that’s what it takes,” said Parke. “We don’t want customers to realize the full impact of this in just one or two bills.”
While the company is still working out the specifics for billing, for community members, it’s a relief.
Glenn and Dawne Leiker have been Midwest Energy, Inc. customers for more than 30 years. They are also in the middle of a home renovation. They say with the money that’s gone to their home upgrades, they were worried they may have to dip into savings to pay their next energy bill.
“I was thinking, what’s in savings, what do we have if we have to dig into that — where will it come from?” said Dawne Leiker. When they heard the news from the company, they welcomed it. “We put a lot of money on this [house], so knowing we don’t have to spend a thousand bucks on an energy bill helps a lot,” said Glenn Leiker.
For retiree Sandra May, she says she has also been a longtime customer of Midwest Energy, Inc. May says although she wasn’t nervous, she was concerned and if needed, was prepared to make payments on her next bill throughout the next year.
“It made me feel a little more comfortable, knowing that if our bill was really horrific, that we would be able to handle it,” said May. She added that her main concern was for those that may not be able to afford the price increases.
“I really do hope and pray that with these bills and with this past freeze, people will recover and not have to worry — just don’t want people to have to worry, if Midwest Energy’s announcement is going to make them worry less, that’s great,” said May.
Midwest Energy did say they won’t know the full impact of the surge in prices until the company’s pipeline energy supplier bills come in, which likely won’t happen until mid-March. Officials also noted that by deferring payments, the company could face increased interest costs.