Updated 7/10/17

City Council approves Higher Bidder for Missouri City decommissioning project

City Council votes in favor 5-2; Decides not to wait for utility board report

The City Council, on July 10th, voted 5-2 to award a $9.7 million proposal to decommission the shutdown Missouri City Power Plant to the high bidder.

Council members voting in favor said the project had been put off too long and the company awarded the contract had more experience.

The contract was awarded to Environmental Operations, Inc. The city received another qualified bid for $4.25 million.

The Public Utilities Advisory Board (PUAB) held a public hearing on July 6th on the proposal.

No one spoke in support of the EOI proposal, several persons spoke in opposition and others asked questions. The public hearing lasted approximately an hour and a half. Approximately 40 people attended.

At the conclusion, the PUAB adopted a motion (5-1) to ask the City Council to delay consideration of the EOI proposal at its July 10th meeting so the utility board could have time to digest information presented at the public hearing and responses to its own questions.

The City Council, at its July 10th meeting, decided to go ahead and approve the contract and not wait for the PUAB report.

Two different motions to delay council consideration until May 2018 and August 2017 were both defeated 5-2.

The council vote was the same on all three motions - approving the contract and opposing the two motions to delay consideration.

The five votes were: John Perkins, Curt Dougherty, Tom Van Camp, Chris Whiting and Eileen Weir.

The two votes were: Scott Roberson and Karen DeLuccie.

City Council responses to 18 questions from the Public Utility Advisory Board. Also includes Separate response from two city council members. Click to download

City Council responses to 18 questions from the Public Utility Advisory Board. Also includes Separate response from two city council members. Click to download

The PUAB submitted 18 questions to the City Council regarding the EOI proposal. Written responses were provided including a minority report from two city council members - Scott Roberson and Karen DeLuccie who oppose the contract.

Here are links to the proposals submitted by the two firms whose bids were accepted.

Environmental Operations Inc. (EOI)

Commercial Liability Partners

uesNOTE: This is the proposal (dated May 11, 2017) IPL staff prepared for the City Council comparing the bid proposals.. Subsequently the higher bidder found additional hazardous materials onsite resulting in the adjustment in its original bid to the $9.7 million proposed contract before the City Council. Click image to download the document).

uesNOTE: This is the proposal (dated May 11, 2017) IPL staff prepared for the City Council comparing the bid proposals.. Subsequently the higher bidder found additional hazardous materials onsite resulting in the adjustment in its original bid to the $9.7 million proposed contract before the City Council. Click image to download the document).

The matter received extensive discussion at the June 15th Public Utilities Advisory Board (PUAB) which voted 4-1 against recommending the higher bid to the City Council. Board members raised several questions about why the lower bid from Commercial Liability Partners was not acceptable.

The PUAB reconvened on June 23 to develop questions it wanted answered by the City Council regarding their recommendation to go with the higher bid. More than a dozen questions were submitted and written responses are expected at the 10:30 am special July 6th meeting at the Public Utility Center.

The selection occurred following a two-step process: a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) in the fall of 2016 which was formally scored but did not include price information followed by a Request for Proposal (RFP) in the spring of 2017. The RFP was not scored - one of the issues raised by the PUAB and opponents.

The five evaluators gave EOI a score of 79.5, followed by CLP 75.5 and National Salvage and Title 70. Evaluations notes on strengths and weakness of the five submitting firms were also developed.

The weakness for EOI, which won the contract, was "no power plant remediation experience."

In the subsequent RFP submission, CLP got National Salvage to join their proposal and handle the demolition. National Salvage strength, noted in the 2016 evaluation notes, was "Extensive Experience with Power Plant Decommissioning and Demolition."

CLP, in its 2017 proposal, noted its proposed demolition subcontractor National Salvage had 10 active power plant demolition projects.

Download background booklet prepared by Indy Energy

Download background booklet prepared by Indy Energy

The city wants to close out the old power plant which began operations in 1954 and which stop generating power in September 2015. The coal power plant, located in Clay County, sits on 87 acres on the Missouri River.

Earlier 2015 engineering studies indicated the cost for closing out the power plant couldtop $17 million to dismantle and sell the site which also includes a recently closed coal ash pond. The ash pond closure project cost approximately $2 million.

The city issued a formal RFP in this February. Three bids were received by the March 31 deadline. Environmental Operations and Commercial Liability Partners submitted proposals. One proposal was considered non-responsive.

City staff, during the PUAB meeting and in city council documents, said they were "directed" by the City Council on May 15, 2017 to negotiate a contract with Environmental Operations which resulted in the contract currently before the City Council.

The PUAB has extensive responsibilities under the City Charter to make sure the city utilities are managed in a businesslike manner.

If awarded, the Missouri City contract would be one of the largest city contracts in recent years.

Key documents on the Missouri City project are available on the Indy Energy website.


Blog

Two members of the Public Utilities Advisory Board - Jack Looney and Mark McDonald - have been reappointed to new four-year terms expiring in 2021.

Looney currently serves as chairperson for the seven-member volunteer board.

The PUAB, in recent months, has been more active and engaged particularly during consideration of decommissioning the city-owned Missouri City power plant.

The PUAB is given extensive responsibilities for utilities providing services in the city.

A wide-ranging audit of Independence Power and Light (IPL) identifies significant financial and operational issues for the city-owned utility.

The audit was publicly presented to the City Council Finance and Audit Committee on July 12 and was also recently presented to the Public Utilities Advisory Board.

The audit executive summary says the city utility is "at a crossroads" because its current 193 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity is within "five years of end of life."

The report outlines 23 different recommendations - some which have already been implemented - to improve IPL's financial performance and overall operations.

IPL has issued a Request for Proposal for an energy master energy plan - an important plan document to evaluate current equipment, alternatives and recommendations on how best to generate or purchase power over the next 20 years.

Proposals are due Aug. 11.

One of the study objectives is to provide "a comprehensive economic evaluation of retiring the Blue Valley steam units" including IPL staff who work there. Blue Valley began operation in 1958 and generates less than 2% of the power IPL uses.

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 curtailment of coal at two city-owned power plants.

Listen to the comments. (Comments start 6:30 minutes)


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.

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.

Marshall wind farm

Marshall wind farm

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 power would be purchased from Marshall Wind Energy LLC which is owned by RPM Access

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

Independence considering large solar farm

Independence is considering construction a major solar farm on city-owned property in northeast Independence.

The news was reported by The Examiner in a front page article which received significant media coverage.

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.

Renewables

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.

Energy Efficiencies

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.

At the same meeting, the City Council approved a rate reduction for schools, approved changes in the cold/hot weather rule and approved an engineering contract for a new administrative office.

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.

Here's a summary of the resolution. Read The Examiner story about the City Council action.

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.