Kansas governor signs bill to protect Kansas cities from surging costs

March 8, 2021

by Paul Ciampoli
APPA News Director
March 8, 2021

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly on March 3 signed a bill to protect Kansas cities from potential price surges in electricity bills caused by extremely cold temperatures in February.

Senate Bill 88 establishes a $100 million low-interest loan program for municipal utilities facing high utility bills after last month’s frigid temperatures. 

“This loan program was absolutely necessary for our cities to manage the surging utility costs,” Kelly said. “It gives cities the immediate relief they need to avoid dire financial decisions while we pursue other, long-term solutions.”

The loan program will be administered by the Kansas State Treasurer’s Office using Pooled Money Investment Board (PMIB) funds.

The City Utility Low-Interest Loan Program is a backstop for cities in Kansas with public power or public gas systems that were financially devastated by the February extreme winter weather event, noted Colin Hansen, Executive Director of Kansas Municipal Utilities (KMU).

“Dozens of cities across Kansas face exorbitant natural gas and power supply costs. For many, six days of usage in February cost multiple times more than an entire year’s gas or power budget,” he said.  

The legislation enacting the City Utility Low-Interest Loan Program went from a hearing on the morning of March 3 to passage on emergency action by both the full House and Senate later that day, Hansen said, with Kelly signing the measure that evening. The State Treasurer was accepting applications 24 hours after the measure was enacted.  

“We are incredibly appreciative of the Governor, State Treasurer and our legislative leaders all joining together on a measure needed to help Kansans in such an incredibly abbreviated timeframe,” Hansen said.

“The loan program will enable cities that were using words like ‘insolvency,’ ‘bankruptcy,’ and ‘dissolution’ the time to begin to address the financial crisis caused by outlandishly high natural gas and electricity prices,” he said.