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11.19.21 - PAYS® in Kansas

Lots of news in the last month to catch-up on, but we’ll dole it out in smaller chunks so as not to monopolize your time. This week: a big win in Kansas by Prairie Roots Kansas and Climate + Energy Project. Next week: Inclusive Utility Investment takes center stage at the EPA 2021 ENERGY STAR Products Partner Meeting.

Historically Underserved Community Hits a PAYS Home Run in Kansas

  • PAYS Pals Climate + Energy Project--a nonprofit driving practical solutions for an equitable transition to a clean energy future in Kansas--and Prairie Roots Kansas--a community based organization created as a hub for organizing, training, and empowering that focused on long-term results, community organizing, and bringing more voters into the electorate for progressive change-- recently teamed up to improve quality of life and reduce energy costs in the 67214 zip code in Wichita, one of the most historically redlined districts in the state.

  • Over the last month, the two groups hosted community meetings, with funding from a RE-AMP Network Rapid Response Grant, that produced The People’s Energy Plan. The plan is letter-form list of demands for Evergy, Kansas--the investor-owned utility that serves most of the population of eastern part of the state. The letter is eloquent and compelling, and pasted below in its entirety. In brief, the primary demands were:

  • Establish of a “Pay as you Save” program like the one Evergy is piloting in Missouri

  • Plan and budget to address health and safety measures for housing stock that need repairs to be eligible for energy efficiency

  • Prioritize minority-owned trade allies and service to 67214, with highest priority to those at risk of shutoff

  • Data transparency

  • The press conference announcing the plan and headlined by Prairie Roots Kansas, drew coverage from two TV stations(1, 2) and NPR. The local political representative was in attendance and delivered the letter with hundreds of signatures personally to Evergy.

  • Evergy respond in writing this week, embracing virtually all of the demands, including stating that they plan to propose a fully funded PAYS program as part of their upcoming Energy Efficiency program filing!

Getting utilities to skip pilots and go straight to full programs is a critical part of accelerating adoption of PAYS and this announcement further cements the NO MORE PILOTS precedents for doing so. (Ameren, MO was first, followed by Spire, MO).

People's Energy Plan Petition to Evergy Lower the electricity bill, protect from shut-offs in high heat, and more by signing this petition! Make Evergy hear our community's voice today.


This letter is to outline Equitable Energy Efficiency programs from residents of Wichita, Kansas and especially the 67214 zip code.

"Our neighborhood has suffered from historic racist redlining policies that are still plaguing us today. As a result of decades of disinvestment, our residents lack access to affordable housing and energy efficient homes. Additionally, our neighborhood is subject to discriminatory practices as a result of this history, including Evergy's recent installation of power poles in our neighborhood that continued the devaluation of our homes. While we acknowledge and appreciate Evergy's investments in our community, additional investments and programs are needed to make up for these harms. Evergy's upcoming Energy Efficiency filing at the Kansas Corporation Commission has the potential to continue repairing or perpetuating the harm, depending on which programs are selected. We deserve access to meaningful energy efficiency programs, whether we rent, own, live in a multi-family or single family building. To repair the harm in our community, we demand a comprehensive energy efficiency filing addressing the most energy burdened communities first. The programs that would achieve this are listed below:

  • Remove the financial barriers for energy upgrades that low-to-moderate-income homeowners, renters, seniors, and other vulnerable populations experience:

  • For example, a Pay As You Save (™) program with an extended payback period to increase eligibility and promote equity.

  • Plan and budget to address health and safety measures for housing stock that need repairs to be eligible for energy efficiency.

  • Data should be used to ensure money spent on energy efficiency programs is prioritized for low-to-moderate-income families, using metrics that include missed payments and disconnection notices. Utilities have the ability to collect information and report to regulators where energy efficiency dollars are being spent. Low- and moderate-income Kansans facing disconnections should be prioritized.

  • Energy Efficiency programs should be designed to prevent utility shut offs for nonpayment, therefore these programs should include a streamlined process for customers with missed payments to be prioritized for energy efficiency programs.

  • Prioritize minority-owned trade allies for Pay As You Save (™) retrofits, particularly from the 67214 zip code.

We will be holding a press conference the first week of November. We request that Evergy meet with us at a town hall (details are to be determined) with a written response to these demands in advance.

Sincerely,

Residents of Wichita"

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