SEK residents facing high utility bills after extreme weather

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LABETTE COUNTY, Ks. — The weather might be warm, but it’s not all sunshine for some residents in rural communities.

Charles Morse, Labette County Emergency Manager, said, “It’s kinda unprecedented new territory if you will and they’re trying to figure it out as they go.”

Rural areas continue to feel the effect of the extreme winter weather from February. Now Labette county is trying to make sure all avenues are open for any assistance.

“Right now we have another disaster declaration in the county that runs through, I believe we have another 12 days left on it.”

“We’ve done that so if there is a presidential declaration declared, we can help communities, if there is some money made available for them.”

While the avenue may be open, places like Chetopa haven’t been having much luck.

Tammy Bushong, Chetopa Mayor, said, “We’ve gotten no assistance from the federal government than having FERC look at to see if it’s gouging, even if that comes to be, that’s gonna take months and years to see anything from that and they’re wanting payment of these bills now.”

They’re focusing on a different strategy now.

“House Bill 2429 is going before the Kansas house, and my understanding of that would be it would be that the loan the city could take out to cover some of these costs up front without having to pass it on to our consumers.”

However this comes at a cost.

“The caveat to that would be that this would be a loan we could pay over ten years.”

So while they wait for this potential solution, the focus is now to use the payment plans, which were already in place because of the pandemic.

“We’ll look at payment plans, we understand that our community with being on fixed incomes, nobody budgets for 1,000 dollar electric bill.”

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