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Fulton receives $3M cold snap utility loan


Gov. Mike Parson presented Fulton with a $3.39 million loan to mitigate the impacts of February’s cold snap on natural gas and electricity costs

The loan was administered through the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Division of Energy and is part of the Municipal Utility Emergency Loan Program enacted by Parson last month. The General Assembly earmarked $50 million for interest-free loans to help local utility companies offset the storm’s impact; according to DNR, 52 municipalities have applied for the program since it opened this month. 

Parson presented the check to the city Tuesday, touting the opportunity for the state to bolster utilities struggling under the costs of the extreme weather event.

“The Municipal Utility Emergency Loan Program provides municipal utilities and commissions the opportunity to recover from the high costs associated with the extreme cold we experienced in February,” Parson said. “The nearly $3.4 million emergency loan to the city of Fulton will lessen the financial impacts for the city and more importantly its residents. This loan program aids municipalities, like Fulton, in their recovery efforts and prevents them from having to immediately pass excessive costs on to customers.”

Winter storms struck the midwest in February, impacting everything from vaccine distribution to the legislature and forcing companies to initiate rolling blackouts. As investor-owned utility companies consider ways to mitigate the impact on customer bills, local companies are struggling under the weight of more limited budgets; Macon Municipal Utilities General Manager Stephanie Wilson said her company’s annual budget of $1.8 million was depleted over a four-day period as prices rose astronomically, requiring the cost to be passed on to customers and stalling planned investments into infrastructure. 

The Missouri Public Utility Alliance (MPUA) was a proponent of the fund, taking part in a virtual press call with lawmakers in March to advocate for the fund. 

“On behalf of hometown utilities in Missouri, we want to thank the governor and the General Assembly for making these funds available to community utilities across the state,” said MPUA President and CEO John Twitty. “This program extends much-needed assistance to communities across the state.”

A bipartisan group of lawmakers from both chambers called on Parson to request the fund after February’s cold snap. Parson obliged the following week, putting it under the purview of a supplemental budget. The bill was signed into law last month. 

The division began accepting applications on June 2. Loans will be repayable for a term of up to five years without interest.