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Hannibal granted $750K cold snap utility loan

In an effort to support the city following February’s cold snap, Missouri granted Hannibal $750,000 through an interest-free municipal utility loan Friday. 

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 Gov. Mike Parson in May. 

The General Assembly earmarked $50 million for interest-free loans to help local utility companies offset the storm’s impact. So far, 53 communities have signed on to the program. 

“The Municipal Utility Emergency Loan Program provides municipal utilities and commissions the opportunity to recover from the high costs associated with the extraordinary cold snap we experienced in February,” Gov. Mike Parson said Friday. “We were happy to create this program that has aided our cities and towns and helped Missourians avoid excessive month-over-month utility bill increases.”

He said Hannibal’s loan will “lessen the financial impacts for the city and its residents.”

The loan will be paid back over five years. It was presented to the city Friday morning. 

“We don’t get a lot of catastrophic events in our neck of the woods, and this storm carried a large financial impact,” Rep. Louis Riggs, who represents Hannibal in the General Assembly, told The Missouri Times. “This is a much-needed relief for us and our community. DNR has been very responsive, and having folks on the job who understand what we need is a blessing for all of us.”

Winter storms struck the Midwest in February, impacting everything from vaccine distribution to the legislature and forcing companies to initiate rolling blackouts. As several investor-owned utility companies extend their financial recovery periods to spread the impact on customer bills over the next three years, local companies are struggling under the weight of more limited budgets.

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.

“We’re honored to be able to assist Missouri utilities that experienced unprecedented energy prices earlier this year,” DNR Director Dru Buntin said. “The priority has been to meet the needs of our communities and provide financial stability for municipal utilities and their customers. We are grateful to the governor for acting so quickly to work with the legislature to secure funding.”

DNR began accepting applications on June 2. About $41 million in loan money has been requested so far, according to the department. 

Cover photo: Missouri Department of Natural Resources