Higher energy costs forecast, KCC says

Higher energy costs are expected in the future, based on current national forecasts, according to the Kansas Corporation Commission.

This will likely increase the cost to cool homes and businesses this summer and heat them this winter, according to the news release from the KCC.

The KCC advised homeowners to weatherize their homes and undertake energy efficiency investments as they are able.

Like many other energy and commodity prices, monthly wholesale natural gas prices have recently increased to levels not seen in the United States since September 2008, the KCC stated.

Wholesale electricity prices have increased as well. On April 18, the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) futures price for natural gas climbed to nearly $8/MMBtu (Metric Million British thermal units) for May and June, with prices over $8/MMBtu for the rest of this year and upcoming winter. For context, natural gas prices regularly traded in the $2-$3/MMBtu range for much of the last decade.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently released its Short-Term Energy Outlook indicating energy price forecasts for the rest of the year are subject to heightened levels of uncertainty from factors such as the continuing war between Russia and Ukraine, decisions of OPEC+, and the rate at which U.S. Oil and Natural Gas producers increase drilling in response to higher prices.

The KCC has launched an online resource to provide additional information, help consumers minimize the impact, and find financial and weatherization assistance. The information is available at https://kcc.ks.gov/consumer-alert-spring-2022

Tax deadline day today

Today, April 18, is the deadline to file income tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service.

According to an IRS news release, those who request an extension by April 18 will have until Monday, Oct. 17, to file a return.

There are some categories of taxpayers who do not have to request an extension, including disaster victims, taxpayers serving in combat zones and those living abroad. They will automatically have a longer time to file, according to the IRS news release.

When taxpayers pay all or part of their taxes electronically by April 18, they will automatically get an extension of time to file, according to the IRS. Although taxpayers may file up to six months later when they have an extension, taxes are still owed by the original due date, the IRS stated.

Kansas was not mentioned in the list of victims automatically eligible for an extension. The victims of December tornadoes and flooding were in Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee. These victims have until May 16 to file their 2021 returns and pay any tax due. Victims of Colorado wildfires and straight-line winds that began Dec. 30, as well as victims of severe storms, flooding and landslides that began on Feb. 4 in Puerto Rico, will have until June 15 to file and pay.

Military service members and eligible support personnel serving in a combat zone have at least 180 days after they leave the combat zone to file their tax returns and pay any tax due, according to the IRS. This includes those serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and other combat zones.

U.S. citizens and resident alients who live and work outside the United States and Puerto Rico have until June 15 to file their 2021 tax returns and pay any tax due, according to the IRS news release. The June 15 deadline also applies to members of the military on duty outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico who do not qualify for the longer combat zone extension.

The tax deadline of April 18 was extended from April 15 because of the Emancipation Day holiday in the District of Columbia.

For more information, see https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/extensions-of-time-to-file-tax-returns-some-taxpayers-instantly-qualify.

Rep. Davids backs attempt to lower gas prices

U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, D-3rd Dist., continued her efforts Wednesday to get relief to Kansas residents by suspending the federal gas tax.

CEOs of oil and gas companies testified before Congress Wednesday, answering allegations of price gouging.

Rep. Davids has urged President Biden and Congress to move forward on long-term energy and inflation solutions, including fixing the supply chains, making more products in America, and investing in a clean energy economy.

Davids has been focused on lowering costs for Kansans, including gas prices:

• She urged her colleagues to investigate potential price gouging by oil and gas companies, who have made record profits despite rising gas prices.
• She introduced legislation to suspend the federal gas tax through the end of the year, saving Kansans 18 cents per gallon at a time when gas prices are reaching new highs.
• After voting for bipartisan sanctions against Russian oil, she called on President Biden to take immediate action to protect American consumers from uncertainty and rising prices during these extraordinary circumstances, including by temporarily suspending the federal gas tax.
• Following Rep. Davids’ calls to take action on rising gas prices last fall, President Biden released 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. He has now authorized the largest release in history, providing a bridge to increased supply.
• Rep. Davids remains committed to long-term energy and inflation solutions, urging the president to protect Kansans from being used for leverage by dictators in the future by investing in renewable and alternative fuels—a position shared by former Navy Secretary Ray Mabus.
• She met with the president and New Democrat Coalition leaders last week to continue pushing for bipartisan legislation to fix the supply chains and make more goods in America, not China.

  • Information from Rep. Davids’ office