Missouri residents need to know there’s help with electric bills - KCTV5

Missouri residents need to know there’s help with electric bills, advocates say

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Lawmakers in Jefferson City are debating a proposed rate hike by KCP&L. (AP) Lawmakers in Jefferson City are debating a proposed rate hike by KCP&L. (AP)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Lawmakers in Jefferson City are debating a proposed rate hike by KCP&L.

Part of that discussion concerns a little known program called the Economic Relief Program with currently more than $500,000 in that fund. The Missouri Office of Public Council contends the program is practically a well-kept secret with the way it’s currently being advertised and administered.

The council points to KCP&L’s website where it takes multiple clicks to find the correct link. Once users find the link, they are taken to a webpage containing outdated information about the program where a phone number is listed. From there, users must call a number, leave a message and eventually receive an application in the mail. They can also drive and pick up an application.

Critics say the program is not very user friendly.

KCTV5 checked in with people who struggled and failed to keep the lights on, like Kari White whose power was cut by KCP&L in November when she fell behind on her bills.

White takes care of her medically-fragile granddaughter. She says within 24 hours of power being cut, her granddaughter was rushed to Children’s Mercy Hospital where she spent days in the ICU.

KCTV5 viewers paid her bill and power was restored. White says in all of her communications with KCP&L, no one ever mentioned that program. KCTV5's investigative team told her about it, and White is currently applying.

KCP&L says the program works, and they have helped thousands of people. They say a recent proposal to add fewer funds to the program in the future is a simple, responsible move. They say they can fund the current available spots with fewer funds.

KCP&L provided KCTV5 with this statement:

In 2009, KCP&L began offering this bill assistance program that offers a monthly bill credit of up to $65 for one year to customers who needed help paying their electric utility bills. Since that time, we have provided more than 15,000 bill credits to qualifying Missouri customers through this program. As of today, this program is nearly full and we remain committed to this program. Claims by the Office of Public Counsel that KCP&L is seeking to end or defund this program are not true.

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