June 25th Forum: Automatic Utility Meters and Community Solar Update
Indy Energy's seventh community forum will provide information about automatic meter readers being considered by Independence Power and Light and an update on the community solar project.
The forum will be held at 10 am Sat., June 25th at the North Independence Public Library. The public is invited. Download a flyer.
Andrew Boatright, Deputy Director, Independence Power & Light, will provide information on advance meters system. He has prior experience with an Advance Metering Initiative in Westerville, Oh.
The idea is to install new utility meters that can be monitored and managed using technology eliminating the need for in-person meter readers. IPL is considering whether to proceed with a plan to install automatic meters for its 53,000 utility customers.
The City Council received a report on automatic meter readers in February. No action was taken and the project is not included in the 2016-17 city budget.
The June 25th forum will include an update on the IPL community solar project which is being constructed by the Lee's Summit-based MC Power on land within the city of Independence.
There is a July 14 groundbreaking for the project.
Indy Energy comments on 2016-17 City Budget
Jason White discussed several energy-related issues during the May 17 public hearing on the proposed 2016-17 budgets.
Topics covered included high rates, energy efficiency, public participation in rate setting and recent developments to diverse energy production including the curtail of coal at two city-owned power plants.
Listen to the comments. (Comments start 6:30 minutes)
City Breaks Ground on New Utility Building
Work on the new city utility center on the former Medical Center of Independence campus is commencing and major project be completed in early 2017.
The ambitious plan converts a former physician office building into administrative offices and customer service center for city-owned utilities including Independence Power & Light.
IPL director Leon Daggett said the building is part of an overall effort to make Independence "one of the greenest cities in the state."
Independence is expanding its purchase of additional wind energy, reached an agreement a new community solar farm and stop burning coal at the two city-operated power plants - Missouri City and Blue Valley.
The new building hopes to meet platinum LEED building standards.
City Council postpones indefinitely IPL Rate Changes
The Independence City Council voted unanimously to indefinitely postpone changes in IPL rates at its Sept. 21 meeting.
The council action occurred following a public hearing at which several individuals shared opposition to changing a $4.14 minimum monthly bill to a $14.50 monthly customer charge.
The council has taken several months to review and better understand recommendations included a May 2015 rate study done by its long-time IPL rate consultant.
Indy Energy provided the council with several policy recommendations for consideration during the public hearing.
Other presenting included representatives from the AARP, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Eastern Jackson County Justice Coalition.
There was broad agreement on opposing increasing the fixed customer charges as creating financial burdens on low-income, fixed income and low-energy users and discouraging energy conservation.
Others spoke in favor of developing energy efficiency programs, increasing utility assistance and support for providing community solar power.
Watch the public hearing presentations.
IPL presents 2015-16 budget
Independence Power & Light has presented its 2015-16 proposed budget to the Independence City Council.
IPL Director Leon Daggett discussed major plans and initiatives for the year which include implementing a new utility billing system, developing plans for a new administrative office, developing a community solar farm and planning for decommissioning the Missouri City city-owned power plant.
The budget presentation showed that IPL rates are generally higher than those for the investor-owned Kansas City Power & Light (KCPL) and the municipally-owned Board of Public Utilities (Kansas City, KS).
Both KCPL and BPU may be increasing their overall rates. Daggett said IPL would not be seeking a rate increase.
IPL plans major wind power Purchase
Independence Power & Light (IPL) has a 20-year agreement to purchase Kansas wind power which would increase the utility's use of wind energy to approximately 13% of its total energy production.
This is a major development for the city utility and a growing commitment to generating power through renewable sources.
Economic analysis projects IPL would save $2.8 million over the 20-year agreement based on a 20-year contract with a fixed price of $33.80 per MWh.
The agreement was unanimously approved May 4 by the Independence City Council. The Public Utilities Advisory Board recommended approval.
The wind turbines are located in Marshall County in central Kansas.
This is a very favorable rate - due in part to a federal Production Tax Creditworth roughly $23 per MWH for the wind project. The federal tax credit is set to expire in 2016.
The municipally-owned Columbia Water and Light reported it was paying between $55.74 and $67.81 per MWh for wind energy it was purchasing in its recent annual report on renewable energy.
Columbia generates 7.22% of its total power from renewable sources. Independence Power & Light - with the wind purchase - will be significantly higher.
The city has another wind power agreement with Smoky Hills II which provides about 5% of the city's current energy production. The second wind purchase agreement would add another 8% energy for wind totaling 13% combined.
Other utilities purchasing power from Marshall Wind Energy include the Kansas Power Pool (25 megawatt share) and the Missouri Joint Electric Municipal Utility Commission (20 megawatt share).
IPL also is currently reviewing several proposals for solar power produced on city-owned property.
Independence will be "greenest utility" in region
Independence Power & Light director Leon Daggett shared progress by the city-owned utility using more renewable energy in a wide-ranging interview on community radio station KKFI.
Listen to the entire interview segment, which aired on the Ecoradio KC show, in the clip below.
Daggett predicted Independence - if it completes the planned wind and solar projects - will be "greenest utility in the region and Independence will be the greenest city in the region."
IPL is also constructing new administrative building which will meet LEED gold certification.
Daggett also discusses IPL responses to a City Council resolution concerning renewable energy and plans for the city-owned Missouri City and Blue Valley power plants to stop burning coal in 2016.
Read transcript of the interview
2014 Energy developments Reviewed
Many energy-related developments occurred during 2014 relative to the municipally-owned Independence Power & Light Co. as outlined in a column in the Independence Examiner.
The column, written by Roger Hershey, reviewed developments regarding rates and operations, energy generation, governance, operations and community engagement.
Independence considering large solar farm
Independence is considering construction a major solar farm on city-owned property in northeast Independence.
In July, the City Council adopted several goals, including IPL getting at least 10 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2018, and 15 percent by 2021.
The Independence Power & Light received strong interest in a bids to construct the solar farm and extended the bidding period from Dec. 10 to Dec. 23.
The project would be a 10-megawatt solar farm if constructed.
The proposed site would be a 30-acre tract located at Bly and Bundschu roads next to the Little Blue River.
City issues Preliminary report on Renewables
The Independence City Manager Robert Heacock provided a preliminary report on a city council resolution concerning renewable energy by posting them on the city's website and discussing them at the Dec. 1 City Council meeting.
The resolution called for a report by Nov. 30th on three topics:
- Design of the remodeled office building for Independence Power & Light to incorporate energy efficiency measures and renewable energy generation;
- Study the feasibility of renewable energy at city-owned facilities;
- Study potential incentives and programs which could be offered to IPL customers for the use of renewable energy.
Detailed studies were posted by the City Manager on the city's website. Copies of the three reports are also available here.
- IPL Memo to City Manager (Nov. 25, 2014)
- Renewable Energy Options Evaluation (Burns & McDonnell) - Nov. 25, 2104
- Brightergy Solar Energy Proposal (Nov. 19, 2014)
The Burns & McDonnell study identifies 11 city-owned buildings which might be potential candidates for solar energy (rooftop, ground or car ports).
The two best solar options are the city-owned Water Pollution Rock Creek plant which is a major energy user where solar might a viable option with at 14.6 year payback if the city installed the solar panel - a perhaps quicker if solar power was provided by a third party.
The second solar option is the new IPL Administrative offices at the former Medical Center of Independence site which the city purchase. IPL is seeking Gold LEED certification and potential Platinum for the new administrative office.
The study concludes that wind and geothermal and solar are currently not a viable option for city-owned buildings because of capital costs and the limited energy produced.
A separate review of city-owned building was done by Brightergy and developed a list of 12 city-owned building for potential solar installation. This analysis said the Independence Event Center and the new IPL administrative offices might also be potential candidates for solar installations.
The 100-page Burns and McDonnell study includes a section on potential energy efficiencies based on reviewing programs 10 different utilities.
Four are in the region (Columbia, Springfield, Kansas City, Mo and Kansas City, Ks), three in Texas, two in California and Excel Energy which provides power in Colorado, Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin.
The study recommends five potential approaches which might be of interest to the city:
- Utility Purchased Efficiency Program: LED Buy-Down Program where a utility buys equipment (i.e., LED light bulbs) in bulk at a reduced price and directly sells the equipment to customers.
- Community Solar Program: The utility has a purchase power agreement with a developer who installs, owns and operates a large scale solar farm. Customers have the option to purchase a portion of their energy needs from the solar facility by paying a 20-year fixed price on the energy.
- Home Energy Loan Program: Improving IPL's current Home Energy Loan Program ("HELP") that provides up to $15,000 loans to residential customers who undertake energy efficiency measures on their home.
- Increase program marketing efforts: Increase awareness of existing IPL programs as well as any new programs to increase participation.
- Rate Structure: Review the current IPL rate structure to eliminate or reduce any rate subsidization issues.
IPL has issued a Request for Proposal for a large-scale solar farm on IPL-owned property and wind energy.
Responses for the solar proposal are due Dec. 10th.
Three wind proposals have been received.
The City Council received an updated report at its Jan. 26th study session.
Citizens discuss renewable energy options with City Council
Three citizens encouraged the City Council to consider renewable energy options during its Oct. 20th meeting.
Addressing the City Council were Winston Apple, David Fyre and Peggy Young.
Also approved was a resolution to post the meeting agendas and minutes for several city appointed bodies including the Public Utilities Advisory Board.
City Council considers options for closing Missouri City power plant and IPL fund balances
The Independence City Council held an extended study session to learn about options for closing the city-owned Missouri City power plant and fund balances for the Independence Power & Light.
This was an extensive discussion involving presentations by IPL director Leon Daggett. Read The Examiner story.
City council supports renewable energy goals
The Independence City Council unanimously supported a resolution that contain an aggressive renewable energy agenda, calls for a rate study and curtail ceasing burning coal at the city-owned Missouri City and Blue Valley power plants in 2016.
The Missouri City plant would stop production; Blue Valley would be converted over to natural gas. Both plants are among the oldest in the region and mostly used on a seasonal basis to meet peak demand during the summer.
The resolution, sponsored by City Councilmember Scott Roberson, follows extensive discussion on energy issues in the community and is largely consistent with a 2011 master plan for Independence Power & Light.
The resolution received editorial support from the Kansas City Star op-ed writer Yael Abouhalkah, who wrote:
"The Independence City Council today (July 21) should move full speed ahead to promote the use of renewable energy in the city and reduce reliance on coal-fired power plants to produce electricity for its residents.
Elected officials have a welcome opportunity to show leadership on these issues because the city owns and operates Independence Power & Light.
Contrary to popular rumors, electricity rates will not soar if the city chooses this path. And eventually ending coal-fired production at old plants will reduce pollution in this region, a benefit for many."
The resolution and its adoption represents a significant policy direction for IP&L which is one of the largest municipal power operations in the U.S.
The Missouri Beyond Coal Campaign issued this media release following passage of the city council resolution.
Unilever is pledging to eliminate coal from its energy usage within five years, and derive all of its energy worldwide solely from renewable sources by 2030.
Unilever is the largest Independence Power & Light electrical user and the plant is expanding. In May 2014, Unilever announced a $99 million expansion creating 70 new jobs.
IPL is already realizing some of the financial benefits of changing its membership status in the Southwest Power Pool - a wholesale power market in the central United States in 14 states.
Total IPL operating revenues through September was $43.3 million, an increase of $1.8 million, or 4.3%, over the prior fiscal year.