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.


Indy Energy holds successful Energy Forum

Over 70 people attended a two-hour Indy Energy community forum on energy issues Nov. 22nd at the North Independence public library.

The focus of the forum - the third one organized by IndyEnergy - was the Independence City Council's July 2014 resolution dealing with renewable energy and utility rates.

Presentations were made by Geoff Marke (Missouri Office of Public Counsel), Paul Snider (VP Policy & Government Affairs Brightergy) and Joe Spease (CEO WindSoHy). Jonathan Zerr moderated the forum.

The forum received extensive coverage in The Examiner.

Copies of the Marke's and Snider's presentations are below and be downloaded.

Download the presentation

Download the presentation

Download the presentation

Download the presentation

Spease used a well-regarded study by Lazard on "levelized cost of energy" that showed renewables, particularly wind, are becoming competitive alternatives to fossil fuel generated power.

A 16-page booklet showing potential energy efficiencies and renewable options for Independence Power & Light was also distributed.

The general survey look at practices by over a dozen Midwestern municipal electrical utilities including six in Missouri. The booklet was developed by the Beyond Coal campaign.

Indy Energy is planning additional the community forums in 2015.


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.


Older plants

Missouri City

Missouri City

Independence Power & Light has among the oldest generating plants in the state of Missouri.

The Missouri City plant is the oldest plant in the state and the Little Blue Valley is the fourth oldest, based on research.

While these two plants are used to meet summer peaking demands, each faces significant investment in the near future if there are to supply energy

Learn more >

Coal Issue

Traditional reliance on coal to generate national utility needs is quickly shifting.

The reasons are the plants are inefficient, dirty and no longer economically competitive.

Independence Power & Light's 2011 Master Plan explores meeting community energy needs through other options or alternative energy sources including natural gas and increasing use of wind power.

Learn more >

Rates

Independence utility rates historically have been competitive if not lower than those of other regional utility companies - investor-owed Kansas City Power & Light or the municipal owned Board of Public Utilities (Kansas City, KS).

In recent years, Independence utility rates have become the highest in the region.

Learn more › 


Community discusses energy options

Indy Energy helped organize a community information session about energy options for the city of Independence at a Jan. 11, 2014 event hosted at the Mid-Continent Public Library.

The event received extensive coverage in the Examiner including the perspectives of the various panelists listed below.

These are the two presentations from that event which also included a panel discussion and a question and answer session.

Click image to download presentation

Click image to download presentation

The panelists included:

Karl Zobrist, energy attorney and former chair of the Missouri Public Service Commission

Click  image to download  presentation

Click  image to download  presentation

Leon Daggett, director of the Independence Power & Light

Roger Hershey, Indy Energy representative

Bruce VanCompernolle, Business Representative, IBEW Local 53

Andy Knott, Campaign Representative, Beyond Coal Missouri

The meeting received editorial coverage with a news story in The Examiner and an op-ed piece by Lynn Youngblood.

Her piece concludes: "This quandary is really two-fold – production and consumption. The conversation has surrounded production. It needs to include consumption and the need to educate people that an increase in electric power production decreases natural resources. The only way to reduce the need for increased production, no matter the source, is to slow consumption."


Keep Current

Community of Christ church leaders sent a letter City Council members and church leaders supporting cleaner energy for the community and customers of Independence Power & Light. 

The Nov. 21 letter states: "All of us have entrusted to be responsible stewards of God's sacred creation and bring about peace on and for the Earth - not just for our own generation, but for future generations."

A new 16-page booklet shares ideas from other Midwest communities on ways to provide clean, renewable energy options, and opportunities to lower consumer energy consumption through efficiency programs.

Indy Energy will hold a community forum on energy issues Sat, Nov. 22nd at 10 am at the North Independence public library.

The topic will be the Independence City Council's recently adopted resolution dealing with renewable energy and utility rates.

Confirmed speakers include Geoff Marke (Missouri Office of Public Counsel), Paul Snider (VP Policy & Government Affairs Brightergy) and Joe Spease (CEO of WindSoHy).

Independence Power & Light is sharing several steps on how to reduce heating costs during the winter.

Most of the ideas are easy, free or low-cost ideas to improve energy efficiency.