Wichita group banding together for energy justice, hopes energy giant will hear concerns
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - Wichita group asking Evergy to establish 'pay as you save' program in Wichita to help alleviate some financial burden to community members.
Prairie Roots Kansas and the Climate + Energy Project, along with over 100 members of the Wichita area community are banning together for energy justice, in particular, advocating for the 67214 area code.
The group is encouraging Evergy, the state's largest electric provider, to adopt equitable efficiency programs that benefit the community.
"What we are doing here today is urging Evergy to address energy justice and to create a plan for alleviating some of the burdens that people in the 67214 community experience, as far as energy costs," Carla Jackson-Patton said.
Carla Jackson-Patton stood before her neighbors, members of the community and a group of advocates, looking for help.
"In my particular instance, I have paid just recently an $800 electric bill," Carla Jackson-patton, who lives in 67214 area code said Monday. "Because what happens is your bill builds up, you get disconnected, you can re-establish, but you've got that bill."
Jackson-Patton says if you are a day late or a dollar short, matters become worse.
"Then that whole bill is due and it builds up and builds up to the point where you have got this exorbitant bill and I have literally lived in my house without any utilities because of the cost," Jackson-Patton added.
"So many times folks who are living with a high energy burden are making very difficult decisions between putting food on their tables... paying for medication etc... This time of year we refer to it as 'heat or eats'... one in three Americans struggle to pay their energy bills and of course this has a more disproportionate income on neighborhoods such as 67214," Beth Paulie with the Climate + Energy Project said Monday.
The group is asking for Evergy to put the 'pay as you save' program in place here in Kansas. It makes it easier for customers to reduce their bills, create long term energy savings and make their homes more energy efficient.
"We shouldn't be penalized for being poor," Jackson-Patton added.
"We would like for them to be able to consider a 'pay as you go' plan. That plan would allow someone that has issues with keeping their house warm or electricity keeping it heated... It would allow Evergy to be able to pay for that upfront and people can make a payment on it for over 12 years. Currently they are doing this in Missouri," State Representative Gail Finney who represents the area said. "We want the same thing. We want equitability here in Kansas as well."
State Representative Finney is doing all she can to make sure the 84th district in Wichita, Kansas is not left out.
"Pretty soon, Evergy will be presenting their energy efficiency portfolio to the Kansas Corporation Commission. So our goal today is to make sure they don't forget about us in Wichita, particularly the North East area... 67214... when it comes to submitting a plan of action," State Representative Gail Finney added.
Evergy sent us this statement in response to the group's plan:
We agree that reaching low-income customers with energy efficiency programs is a high priority, and we will soon propose specific programs to the kansas corporation commission. We are glad to see local leaders ready to champion these programs and help raise awareness if they are approved.
The group will hold a virtual town hall about this same subject on November 18th. Evergy tells KAKE News they have accepted the invitation to attend.