KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Executives at Kansas City Power & Light say they have heard people's concerns about larger than normal bills and are listening.
Friday, the utility company announced a new plan to help people pay their large bills and avoid disconnection. Katie McDonald said she and her crew at KCP&L got together and figured out a way to end the panic of disconnection and extra high utility bills in two ways.
"We are not going to do any disconnects in the month of September to give customers an extended time to get caught up on their bills, and not have to worry about getting disconnected this month,” McDonald said.
To help folks hit with a large bill after the annual budget billing adjustment, KCP&L is also offering a four-month payment arrangement.
“And what the four-month payment arrangement will do is allow customers a third of a year to spread out the balance that they currently have, and get current on their bills and have more time to get caught up," McDonald explained.
For example, if you have a $1,500 bill, KCP&L will allow you to stretch that bill out over four months, which would be $375. A smaller chunk, easier to handle.
KCP&L customers have always had a choice about how they pay their utility bills. Either for what they use each month, or on a budget billing plan. Budget billing is an average estimate of what the customer will use over the year, broken up into 12 even payments. It offers a more predictable amount with no surprises as long as you pay attention to your bills.
"The bill always says how much you actually use and what you actually owe, and I think for customers who really use budget billing for a fix it and forget it, you really can’t forget it.” McDonald said. “Because you are using electricity, you are not paying for throughout the year, so ultimately that is going to catch up with you."
Christopher Miller started a Change.org petition, which has been signed by over 57,000 people, demanding answers about why KCP&L keeps applying rate increases and a review of the budget billing system.
He said he's still concerned customers are being overcharged and believes KCP&L is monopolizing the market.
"I understand what they are doing, but is that really a solution? It seems like a quick fix to get this to die down,” Miller said. “It is not a long-term solution. What about next summer? What about the summer after that?"
McDonald said KCP&L has come up with a plan to avoid this type of situation happening in the future
“What is new is that going forward instead of waiting 12 months to get a big adjustment like this which customers say they don’t like and can’t stomach, what we are doing going forward is when you use more or less that 10 percent of your bill, you are going to get recalculated so that it smooths out your balance through the year and avoids a one-time adjustment that is difficult for customers," McDonald said.
In order to take advantage of this program, you must call KCP&L after Labor Day to sign up for this program at 816-471-5275 or 1-888-471-5275. If you don't either sign up for extended pay program or pay your bill in full, disconnections will resume in October and you'll be in the dark.