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Help available for handling rising heating costs

Staff writer

A Marion County family of three who found themselves hard-put to keep up with winter heating costs last year found help through a statewide program for families with limited income.

The Low Income Energy Assistance Program, operated through the state and administered by the Department for Children and Families, is the program the family turned to.

When a grandmother became guardian of her grandson, the extra expenses that came with an added household member meant every dollar had to be spent carefully.

Getting a one-time boost of $600 toward electricity and gas bills gave her an opportunity to spend her money on other things the family needed.

The cost of fuel is expected to escalate this year, said Aaron Bishop, public affairs manager for Atmos Energy.

Global supply and demand is behind the cost increase. Gas, electricity, and propane prices all are expected to rise.

It’s hard to predict how much a customer’s bill will rise because part of the price is the amount of energy used, Bishop said.

He said Atmos had worked to keep costs as low as possible, but prices still would go up. He said gas prices are about 70 cents per hundred cubic feet now.

“We make gas purchases throughout the year and try to get it at a lower cost,” Bishop said.

Assistance programs

Low Income Energy Assistance Program helps pay utility bills for qualifying households. Income, the number of people in the household, recent utility bill payment records, and the type of heating fuel used are considered in deciding whether an applicant qualifies. More information is available at (800) 432-0043.

Atmos Energy’s Share the Warmth program is operated through the Salvation Army. Representatives can be reached at (816) 756-5392 or locally at (620) 947-3824. Norma Duerksen at Trinity Mennonite Church in Hillsboro coordinates Salvation Army programs in Marion County.

Evergy’s Project Deserve program provides assistance to Evergy customers. It can be reached at (816) 931-8400.

South Central Kansas Economic Development District offers a Weatherization Assistance Program for eligible households. It can be reached at (316) 262-7035.

Ministerial alliances in most cities provide limited assistance for utility bills. Local ministers can offer advice.

Families and Communities Together, based in Hillsboro, provides assistance to families with children. FACT can be reached at (620) 877-0197.

The Cold Weather Rule

The Cold Weather Rule, which prevents utility companies under the jurisdiction of the Kansas Corporation Commission from disconnecting customers who are behind on payment during cold weather, is in effect through March 31.

Utility companies are required to offer a 12-month payment plan so customers can catch up on bills. Marion and Hillsboro are not under KCC

Last modified Nov. 3, 2021

 

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