WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Your next energy and gas bill might come with some sticker shock, but companies and organizations are already planning financial options for those who may need some assistance.

“They are on disability, so again they know exactly what to expect each month and they have their budget lined out and this didn’t fit in their budget,” said Heather Pierce, the 211 call center coordinator for United Way of Great Plains.

Pierce said calls from those seeking assistance are already coming into United Ways 211 call helpline.

“There is the concern of these higher utility bills that will be coming as we all try to heat our homes, and so questions about how am I going to be able to afford to pay these bills,” she said.

The United Way 211 call center works to connect people in need to resources all over Kansas.

“We want people to know not only are we here to offer resources but we are linked to a human person that you can talk to and listen with empathy and hear your situation,” said Pierce.

If money is tight, Pierce recommends applying to the federal low-income assistance program now. This program provides extra money to those who may need it seasonally.

“We want customers to be sure to know that we are going to do everything we can to help them if they just let up know that they’re having any type of financial difficulties,” said Dawn Tripp, communications manager with Kansas Gas Service.

Kansas Gas Service is asking customers to let it know if they need help. They have payment plans available. Evergy said customers can switch to the average payment plan to also help with prices.

“It takes some of the seasonal fluxation out of your bill. You don’t have those higher bills in the winter,” said Gina Penzig with Evergy.


Kansas Cold Weather Rule

This rule deals with disconnect procedures for residential customers during the time period November 1 thru March 31. While the Cold Weather Rule is in effect, utility companies cannot disconnect a customer’s service when local temperatures are forecast to drop below 35 degrees within the following 48-hour period. The Cold Weather Rule also requires utility companies to offer a 12-month payment plan to allow consumers to maintain or re-establish service.

Call your utility company or the Kansas Corporation Commission at (800) 662-0027.


LIEAP

The Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) is a federally funded program that helps eligible households pay a portion of their home energy costs by providing a one-time per year benefit. The 2021 LIEAP application period is from Monday, January 4 through Wednesday, March 31. Print applications and online applications are available. Completed applications must be received prior to 5 p.m. on March 31, 2021.


Center of Hope Emergency Assistance

The Center of Hope provides emergency rent and utility assistance to those in danger of being evicted from their homes or having their utilities shut off.


United Way Financial Assistance programs

United Way 2-1-1 helps Kansans locate utility assistance programs. Call “211” toll-free to see what assistance programs are available in your area.


Salvation Army

HeatShare provided emergency utility assistance. It is operated by the Salvation Army Kansas & Western Missouri. Dial 211 to be directed to services in your area.


Evergy Project DESERVE

Project DESERVE is a program administered by the Center of Hope in partnership with Evergy Energy that provides emergency financial assistance for Evergy bills. It is for those over age 65 or those who are receiving disability income or who meet the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) guidelines of 30% of the Federal Adjusted Income Limits.

If you think you might be eligible for Project DESERVE assistance, please contact Center of Hope at 316-267-3999 or call Evergy Energy at (800) 383-1183.

Assistance programs for utility companies across Kansas