Worry Free Service has expanded into the Houston and Dallas/Ft. Worth markets.

“Worry Free Service,” a utility partnership started last year by a group of Kansas City contractors and a subsidiary of Kansas City Power & Light Co., has expanded into the Houston and Dallas/Ft. Worth markets.

For a monthly fee, Worry Free Service provides homeowners with new high-efficiency PHC equipment and covers annual maintenance, lifetime repair and eventual replacement of that equipment if necessary. The monthly fee varies in accordance with the equipment and program options.

The agreement between KCPL’s subsidiary, Worry Free Service, Inc., and Worry Free Contractors International, is an example of a new kind of utility-contractor partnership that participants believe serves as a model for coping with the post-deregulation era with utilities.

The Worry Free contractor is paid by Worry Free Service, Inc. for equipment, materials and workmanship during the first full year after installation, including two preventive maintenance calls. After the first year, Worry Free Service pays the installing contractor for two preventive maintenance calls each year for the life of the equipment. The contractor also is paid for any repairs to the equipment, but must guarantee 24-hour, 365-day response to the homeowner and Worry Free Service.

Equipment covered in the program includes furnaces, boilers, air- and ground-source heat pumps, water heaters, humidifiers and electronic air cleaners. To be eligible for the program, contractors must meet a list of 31 standards covering professionalism, training and customer relations factors.

Since starting early in 1996, the Worry Free program in the Kansas City area has generated around $4 million in sales for participants. “One of the areas we find very attractive for expansion is commercial work,” said Doug Dahl, KCPL’s manager of the Worry Free Service program. He cited a recent contract for over 280 apartment units worth around $800,000.

The original group of 33 Worry Free Contractors has expanded to 53. The Texas program at last report numbered 35 contractors in Houston and 28 in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.

For more information about Worry Free Service, call 800/345-4822.