An open letter to:
President and Chief Executive Officer
One Kansas City Place
1200 Main Street
Kansas City, MO 64150
Re: Evergy must immediately stop disconnecting families’ power during worsening pandemic
Evergy did the right thing by instituting a disconnection moratorium when the pandemic started and again before the 2020 holidays. With intensive care unit capacity at 15% in Missouri, Kansas hospitals rejecting transfer cases, and the increasing impact the Delta variant is having on children, now is the right time for Evergy to double down on its commitment to its most vulnerable customers. Evergy is making life harder for the more than 18,000 residential households that Evergy involuntary disconnected in May and June alone, compounding these households’ hardship. Evergy must immediately cease shutting off the electricity of residential customers until November, at the earliest, to give customers the time and flexibility they need to seek essential financial assistance and allow agencies to process growing volumes of requests for aid. Evergy must also turn on the power of households disconnected since May 1, 2021 so customers can get relief without facing eviction or losing essential services during the heat of summer. Evergy would demonstrate its support for authentic community partnerships by working with community organizations, like those affiliated with Build Power MoKan, to develop a plan for supporting customers so that those who need assistance get it and that regular services can resume without causing immense hardship for customers. This is necessary to ensure our communities can recover from the pandemic.
Essential protections have been allowed to expire even though coronavirus cases are still multiplying and families are still struggling. Evergy’s twelve-month payment plan and credit programs have been insufficient to keep many vulnerable community members safe while thousands of customers are falling through the cracks of relief efforts. Evergy has pledged to put people first. Utility staff stated that Evergy cares deeply about protecting customers and that anyone would be hard-pressed to find another utility that has done more, and that it will exercise compassion going forward. Evergy must honor that pledge now. Evergy should follow the lead of the Kansas Board of Public Utilities and reinstate its moratorium. Agencies and community advocates helping residents get relief have said that more time is needed to help inform the public of available aid and processing applications before they are disconnected, which is often grounds for eviction. There is no good excuse for allowing disconnections to continue as the Delta variant rages throughout Kansas and Missouri.
Stopping disconnections is a necessary step to ensure our communities recover from this crisis together. We understand more work will need to be done by all of us, as we previously shared in a December 2020 letter, when, like now, the COVID-19 crisis was worsening. We are committed to working to ensure our communities persevere through this time of crisis. We hope Evergy will immediately take this necessary action to save lives, and we look forward to a response to set up a time to discuss plans for additional action.
Ty Gorman, Sierra Club Kansas Beyond Coal Campaign
Gretchen Waddell Barwick, Sierra Club Missouri Chapter
Sarah Owsley, Empower Missouri
Beto Lugo Martinez, CleanAirNow
Michael Wolfe, Sunrise Movement KC
Kim Weaver-Scott, WyCo Mutual Aid
Rent Zero Kansas
Robin Ganahl, Mothers Out Front Kansas City
Justice Gatson, Reale Justice Network Realejustice17@gmail.com.
Kansas Corporation Commission
Missouri Public Service Commission
Governor Laura Kelly
Governor Michael Parson