Electric shock: Get help paying high utility bills in the Kansas City area

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The electric shock is likely heading to your inbox as power companies prepare to send out bills to customers. The bills will include the power used over a frigid two weeks earlier this month.

Metro power companies said the higher bills are not because of increased energy prices, but simply because customers used more power during the cold stretch.

There are also a number of other programs that may be able to help cover high energy bills. Companies say the need is great, so don’t wait to apply if you need help.

General assistance

Earned Income Tax Credit

Provided through the IRS, if your earned income was higher in 2019 than in 2020, you can use the 2019 amount to figure your Earned Income Tax Credit for 2020.

Find out more about the program and how to figure your credit on the IRS website. You can also call 800-829-1040 for assistance.

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

A federal program that may be able to help with:

  • Assistance paying heating or cooling bills
  • Emergency services in cases of energy crisis, such as utility shutoffs
  • Low-cost home improvements, known as weatherization, that make your home more energy efficient and lower your utility bills.

LIHEAP funds may not be used to pay water and sewer bills.

Read more about Missouri’s LIHEAP Program or the LIHEAP Program in Kansas.

United Way/211

Customers can call 211 to reach the United Way. The number is answered 24/7. The organization will work to find a program that can help.

Evergy customers

Evergy announced it’s moratorium on service disconnections ended this month. Until recently, the company wouldn’t shut off utilities to small businesses and residential customers who were behind on their Evergy bills.

If you’re looking for financial assistance, here are some options:

Economic Relief Pilot Program

This program is offered through the Salvation Army. It’s available to Evergy customers who live in Missouri. If approved, you may receive a bill credit of up to $65 a month for up to 12 consecutive months. There are three ways to apply:

Emergency Rental Assistance Program

As the name implies, this program is only available to renters. It can also cover your actual rent, as well as utilities that are related to the pandemic. It covers up to 12 months, including past due and current bills. You may also be eligible for rent assistance for up to three months.

There are several things to know when applying for this program:

Independence customers

The Independence Rate Assistance Program is designed to help low income elderly or disabled people, living in Independence with their utility costs.

Qualified citizens of Independence pay only 50% of the electric charges on their bill. This program is administered by the Community Services League, 254-4100.

To qualify, you must:

  • Be at least 60 years old or disabled,
  • Live within the city limits of Independence
  • Be the head of your household and have electric service with the City of Independence or Evergy
  • Have a maximum income of all household members no greater than 150% of the poverty level as announced by the Health and Human Services Department
  • Have resources not exceeding $3,000, excluding your residence and vehicle
  • Not own rental property.

If you live in Independence and need assistance paying your utility bill, but don’t qualify for the program, contact Utilities Customer Service as soon as possible. The utility says is easier to work out a payment plan with customers who are current on their payments.

BPU customers

The Board of Public Utilities has a number of organizations that can help with large electric bills. Here are phone numbers that can help.

Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance Program

The Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance Program helps Kansans living outside of Wichita who’ve had difficulty paying or collecting rent, utility or internet payments because of the pandemic.

It covers:

  • Up to 12 months of current and past due household rent
  • Up to three months of prospective rent at a time, even if the household does not have rental arrears
  • Past due residential utility, home energy (electric, gas, water, sewer, and trash services), and internet expenses

Applicants must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Tenant rents their home.
  • Tenant’s 2020 household income did not exceed 80 percent of their area’s median income.
  • At least one member of the household is experiencing documented financial hardship as a result of the COVID pandemic.
  • At least one member of the household is uncertain where they will stay or may become homeless without housing assistance.
  • Applicant can provide valid proof of identification.
  • Applicants must not have received any assistance from other sources for the same costs.

Apply online for the Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

Customer Hardship Payment Service Program

financial assistance program that provides eligible participants assistance to offset utility expenses related to health emergencies, change in employment or income status, unforeseen expenses, etc. 

Call the special Hardship Hotline at 913-371-6772 or the directly at 211 for more information.

BPU’s Utility Assistance Program

The utility works with a number of community organizations that may be able to help with your need:

  • Catholic Charities
    • 2220 Central Avenue
    • Kansas City, Kansas 66102
    • (913) 621-1504 
  • Crosslines Cooperative
    • 736 Shawnee Avenue
    • Kansas City, Kansas 66105
    • (913) 281-3388
  • El Centro
    • 650 Minnesota Avenue
    • Kansas City, Kansas 66101
    • (913) 667-0100 
  • Economic Opportunity Foundation (EOF)
    • Main Office
    • (913) 371-7800
  • EOF Northeast C & D Center
    • 1542 Minnesota Avenue
    • Kansas City, Kansas 66102
    • (913) 371-0848
  • LIEAP (Low Income Energy Assistance Program)
    • Topeka: 1-800-432-0043
    • Wyandotte County Office
    • One Gateway Center
    • Kansas City, Kansas 66101
    • (913) 279-7000
  • Metropolitan Lutheran Ministries (MLM)
    • 722 Reynolds Avenue
    • Kansas City, Kansas 66101
    • (913) 342-8333
  • Salvation Army
    • 6723 State Avenue
    • Kansas City, Kansas 66102
    • (913) 232-5400
  • United Way
    • 434 Minnesota Avenue
    • Kansas City, Kansas 66101
    • (913) 371-6772

Counties can help

Leavenworth County

Housing help is available through Leavenworth County. There are several requirements you’ll need to apply for the program. To learn more about it, and how to apply, find more information on the county’s website.

Miami County

Miami County said it has several programs in place to help people and families struggling to make ends meet. Log on to the country’s website to see which programs may be available to you.

Platte County (Outside of KCMO)

Renter applications are open for Missouri’s housing relief assistance program. If you qualify, the fund can cover up to 12 months of rent and utilities, including gas, electric and water. Find out more information on Missouri’s Housing Resources website.

Cities utility assistance

Basehor

If you live in Basehor, Kansas, utility assistance is available on the city’s website, at City Hall, or you can call 913-724-1370 for information.

Blue Springs

People living in Blue Springs that need help paying certain bills can find information on the city’s website. Blue Springs has CARES Act Assistance to help with past due rent and utility bills.

Odessa

Odessa has a phone number for people who need help paying utility bills. Call 816-230-7558 for more information.

Raytown

Raytown Cares, and the city has programs in place to help cover bills for families as well as small businesses. Information for the programs available can be found online at Raytown Cares.

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