TOPEKA (KSNT) – Kansas is bringing out a new $80 million joint loan program to help businesses recover, as well as cut down massive energy bills from the state’s February cold-weather crisis.
The program has two parts and is directed at small commercial or agricultural businesses with less than 200 employees, as well as schools. The first, the Economic Recovery Loan Program, takes a $60 million stake, and any business with less than 200 employees can apply for a loan up to $250,000 from that share for expenses associated with their operations.
The second, the Extraordinary Utility Program, lets businesses or schools who buy natural gas wholesale apply for a low-interest loan if they received a high utility bill from the February winter weather. Applicants to this second part can get loans up to $500,000, according to Kansas State Treasurer Lynn Rogers.
“We have had businesses calling about these loans,” Rogers said. “They’re ready to apply, and we want to encourage as many banks, credit unions, and farm credit associations to participate.”
At peak, more than 100,000 Evergy customers went without power the week of February 15 as the power company started rolling blackouts to compensate for energy generation issues. Conditions like freezing fog affected electricity generators like wind turbines. Coal plants also suffered issues such as freezing coal stacks due to the extreme cold and natural gas plants had to compete with scarce natural gas supplies.
Some Kansas towns like Winfield, which receive their energy from a municipal provider instead of a regional one like Evergy or the Kansas Gas Service, reported bills in the millions for natural gas over the six-day span in February.