No Increase in Costs for City of Russell Electric Customers
Many City of Russell customers are concerned about electricity rates increasing following February's arctic blast, leading to skyrocketing natural gas and electricity prices.
Many statewide and regional media stories talk of many residents and businesses that are facing astronomical increases in their electric bills.
Russell is a public power community; publicly owned, locally controlled and not for profit. As a public power community, the electric utility serves only its customers' interests, avoiding conflicts between shareholders and customers' interests because they are the same. Excess revenues stay in the local community and are invested in system improvements and utility reserves or returned to the customer in the form of lower rates. They are not distributed among outside shareholders, as they are in the case of for-profit utilities.
During the seven days of extraordinarily high electricity prices and extreme cold, Russell was able to generate most of the community's electric needs, significantly reducing exposure to the high energy rates at the time; energy costs up to 100 times average. The ability to produce electricity also eliminated customers' exposure to the planned outages that many communities in the 14-state Southwest Power Pool region experienced.
The City of Russell is fortunate. Although the City saw a significant increase in cost for February, with the power plant generating a portion of electricity and purchase power contracts, the City avoided over $2 million in additional cost in February. Similar costs that other utilities will have to pass on to their customers.
Russell's electric customers will not see an increase due to the February energy emergency. The utility's reserves will absorb those costs, so they do not have to be passed on to the customer.
There is help for those who have trouble paying their bill. The Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) is a federally funded program that helps eligible households pay a portion of their home energy costs by providing a one-time per year benefit. The 2021 LIEAP application period closes on March 31, 2021. For more information, visit the Kansas Department for Children and Families. The Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance (KERA) program can assist eligible households with rental assistance and home energy costs. The Kansas Housing Resources Corporation administers the KERA program. For more information, visit kshousingcorp.org.
For questions about your city bill, please contact the City Clerk's Office at 785-483-6311.
(Information and photo courtesy City of Russell.)