Utilities resume disconnecting clients

KANSAS CITY, MO – Moratoria on evictions and blackouts have helped many avoid financial disasters during the pandemic. But now those programs are ending and there is a huge amount of bills due.

After 14 months with two separate windows in which no one switches off the power supply, Evergy resumes the separation.

For some, it is almost impossible to turn the lights back on and stay afloat.

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Bonnie Phillips has had a tough year. Her working hours were shortened and the single mother no longer has any support after her exes lost their jobs and were unable to pay.

“I have to choose between food and the things my children with disabilities need. You have to balance, do I get this today or do I get this,” said Phillips.

She couldn’t afford her electricity bill and reached $ 977.74.

Bonnie says that on May 3rd, the day the utility resumed the separation, their service was abruptly interrupted. When she called Evergy, she said they told her it would cost $ 700 to restore service.

“It feels kind of predatory,” said Phillips.

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She took out a high-yield loan last summer to pay bills that she’s still trying to pay back. Her grandma let her borrow cash to reconnect the utilities, which increased her debt. Aid programs have shown she barely crosses the income threshold to qualify or funds to help run dry.

“It’s overwhelming, honestly,” said Phillips.

Build Power MoKan is a new consumer protection group that has helped extend the moratoriums on power disruption. However, Evergy believes that Evergy can and should do more to help its customers through this unprecedented crisis.

“It’s rising and there just aren’t enough safety nets, and the programs that are in place now are not going to make it,” said Beth Pauley of Build Power MoKan and the Climate Energy Project.

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Evergy insists it helps, more than ever, to give customers more time to pay overdue bills and to link them to COVID relief funds in the community.

“We know these programs can take weeks to run, and sometimes people don’t have weeks to pay that bill. So this is where the critical business-to-customer communication comes in so we can set it up, make arrangements and keep your service, ”said Maria Lopez, customer affairs manager at Evergy.

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Those struggling to pay the rising bills hope that more support will come and that this will spark a conversation about the growing problem of the affordability of energy.

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