WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Kansas officials have given the OK for Kansas customers of Black Hills Energy to pay off the natural gas costs from the historic cold outbreak last February. Customers will see their bills go up for the next five years.

During the intense cold last year, there was extraordinary demand for natural gas. As a result, the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) ordered gas companies to do everything possible to continue providing natural gas service to customers, defer the charges, and then develop a plan to allow customers to pay the unusually high costs over time to minimize the financial impact.

On Thursday, the KCC approved a settlement agreement outlining how Black Hills Energy will recover $87.9 million in deferred natural gas costs.

The company will spread the cost over five years, beginning next month through January 31, 2027. On average, residential customers will see an increase on their monthly bills of $11.47 during this period. Customers will see the charge on their bills as a separate line item titled “Storm Uri Gas Charge.”

The KCC says that if customers had been to pay the costs over a one-year period, it would have resulted in average residential increases of $53.51 per month.

The monthly amount may change over the five years. Black Hills Energy will true-up actual cost recoveries to expected recoveries for periods ending January 31 of each year the rate is in effect. Any difference noted will be included as a charge or credit for the next twelve months.

Additionally, any recovery of costs through federal or state investigations into price gouging, market manipulation or civil suit resulting from the weather event will be passed on to customers.

This is the third winter weather payment plan approved by the commission. KCC staff is currently evaluating plans submitted by Southern Pioneer, Evergy, Atmos, and Kansas Gas Service. Empire has not yet filed a plan.

Black Hills encourages customers struggling to pay their bills to reach out to their customer service team to inquire about energy assistance funding, such as the Kansas Low Income Energy Assistance Program and Black Hills Cares and Budget Billing.