The City Council approved a two-year contract extension with Strategic Capitol Consulting to lobby on behalf of Independence Power and Light at the state capitol in Jefferson City.
The proposed contract increases the contract from the current $66,000 per year to $120,000 per year, or $10,000 a month. The current contract expires Oct. 30th.
The lobbying firm is lead by Steve Tilley, a well-connected lobbyist and former Speaker of the House of Representatives. IPL previously did not have its own lobbyist, but stated it needed assistance on major utility issues.
The City Council also approved a separate lobbying contract with John Bardgett & Associates which also will be paid $120,000 - an increase from $90,000 under its current contract which expires Aug. 31.
A major report on future options for energy generation and options is nearing completion.
The study will provide technical and economic evaluations for various energy scenarios so the municipal utility can "supply an affordable, reliable, and environmentally friendly supply of capacity and energy for the next 20 years."
The master energy plan will recommend a preferred energy portfolio, project energy demand, explore energy efficiency options and make recommendations on generating capacity and staffing levels.
In 1901, Independence city leaders – then a community of roughly 7,000 – decided to take a bold step and create our current municipal electrical power company now known Independence Power and Light.
It was a time of great change and innovation.
Automobiles were a novelty, commercial radio was unimagined and television an unknown idea. Computers, internet and amazing personal technology would come later.
City leaders created the city-owned electrical utility at the turn of the 20th century so the community could benefit from the opportunities (real and many not even imagined) from harnessing the capacity to generate and transmit electricity could have for the community.
“Ownership of the electric utility meant independence for the people of Independence,” commented an official history of the city electric utility which now serves a community of over 116,000 with over 56,000 electric and water customers.
And like the world around us, the electric utilities and the backbone transmission grid over which it wheels electrical power is facing tremendous changes.
The industry is shifting from coal-fired generation to other sources, primarily natural gas, wind and solar. Currently 13.5 percent of IPL’s power is generated from either wind (purchased in Kansas) or solar (currently generated by the community solar farm and scheduled to significantly expand next summer).
The major energy study will provide technical and economic evaluations for various energy scenarios so the municipal utility can "supply an affordable, reliable, and environmentally friendly supply of capacity and energy for the next 20 years."
The master energy Study is being conducted by Burns and McDonnell at a cost of $325,000.
The most significant issue the master energy plan is expected to address is the future of the city-owned Blue Valley power plant.
The staff's estimates to switch utilities providers could cost up to $29.5 million - $17.2 million to KCPL to take over the service and another $12.2 million for new IPL transmission line upgrades to deliver power to Courtney Bend.
The master energy study will address several important questions including the future of the city-owned Blue Valley power plant and whether it makes economic sense to purchase needed power from other sources.
The study should provide economic evaluations and recommendations to meet IPL generating needs over the next 20 years.