Concerns arise for Kansans who will not qualify for energy bill help

By: Phil White Email
By: Phil White Email

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ANDALE, Kan. -- The price of a major energy source continues to be a major source of frustration for many Kansas residents.

Some Kansans worry about those who will not qualify for state energy bill assistance.

Governor Sam Brownback said Wednesday he has directed the Kansas Department of Children and Families to give priority status to Low-Income Energy Assistance Program applications from propane users. However, many Kansans who will not qualify for that program still struggle to get by month-to-month.

"I don't see how a retired couple could do this," said Sedgwick County resident Jerry Mahon.

Mahon and his wife, Diane, live near Andale. They say they are having a hard enough time paying for propane, but they worry about those trying to make it on a fixed income.

"I work, so I can work overtime or something to try to make up for it, but if you're a retired couple," he said.

The skyrocketing propane prices have even caught the eyes of state officials.

"It's causing significant difficulty and, in some cases, people not to be able to purchase the amount of propane they need to be able to heat their home," Brownback said when announcing Wednesday the DCF focus on aid applications from residents who rely on propane.

The Mahons worry if they and others have to keep dipping into their savings accounts to pay regular expenses, those who need help will be hurt the most.

"We help each other," Diane Mahon said. "People help one another in these times, but when you have nothing left to help with, who's going to help?"

They also are not convinced price gouging isn't occurring.

"They always say natural gas and propane are clean and abundant," Jerry Mahon said. "Well, no they're not. Not if they're now saying there's a shortage. They don't plan for all this stuff?"

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt's office is part of a multi-state inquiry into what exactly caused the recent spike in propane prices. The office has also requested information from the Propane Marketers Association of Kansas.

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