Issues Involving Independence Power and Light
This page outlines various issues related to Independence Power and Light over the past several years. It is intended to provide general background information on the issues - many of this are explored in more detail on our website.
A major report on future options for energy generation and options recommends closing the the city-owned Blue Valley power plant and replacing the lost capacity through other options such as an increase ownership interest in the Dogwood natural gas plant in Pleasant Hill. The much anticipated detailed report looked at several different options with the overall goal of helping Independence Power and Light affordable, reliable power over the next 20 years.
*** Status: City Council requesting options if Blue Valley is closed. | More Info: Master Energy
IPL wanted to gain initial experience with community solar so it contracted with McPower for a small initial 3.2 MegaWatt project on Bundschu Road. The city aggressively pushed a second phase community solar project - part at the Bundschu site and also the former Rockwood golf course which the city bought. The new capacity is 11.4 MegaWatts. IPL staff reported the community solar project will lose $15 million over a 25 year period. Questions were raised about the land transaction costs for Rockwood in an investigative story.
*** Status: Stay tuned | More info: Community Solar
The City Council took the initiative to explore getting "smart meters" for both electric and water and decided it was interested after spending nearly $500,000 for consulting on the project. RFPs went out and five qualified vendors responded. The City Council balked, tabled the issue, then voted not to proceed in April 2018 and then invited all five vendors to make formal presentations to the City Council. The issue has been thoroughly reviewed and evaluated but the City Council may not proceed in the light of recent billing problems, labor issues and questions on who gets the contract.
*** Status: Unclear what City Council might do | More info: Advanced Metering Initiative (AMI)
The City Council decided to replace its antiquated billing system used by electric, water and stormwater. The project fell behind and delayed for a year. Once it rolled out, customers had questions about their bills. Several issues are involved - hotter summer, billing delays and other issues. The city conducted an internal review and decided to hire an outside party to review the issues. Consumers have filed complaints, online petitions and exploring legal options.
*** Status: The outside review is due at the end of September | More info: Billing Issues
The City Council has struggled with rate issue tabling indefinitely a rate proposal in September 2015. The proposal wanted to simplify rates and makes commercial and industrial rates more competitive. Current IPL rates, in general, are higher than neighboring utilities. A new cost of service study is underway and the City Council now seems more focused on how to lower current rates.
*** Status: Cost of service study due fall 2018 | More info: Utility Rates
City Council wants to be the "greenest city in America" and wants to add electric charging stations and electric vehicles. There was a complicated purchasing process, but the City will lease 10 electric charging stations for public use and 10 Chevrolet Volt vehicles for city use.
*** Status: Pending Council approval | More info: Electric Charging Stations & Vehicles
The City Manager had a wide-ranging performance management audit done on Independence Power and Light which covered many major issues. This was the first audit of IPL in over 17 years. The report, released in July 2017, concluded the city utility is "at a crossroads" because its current 193 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity will need to be replaced within five years.
*** Status: Scorecard being kept on 28 audit recommendations | More info: Management Audit
The issue: There is a leadership void at IPL with the departure of the deputy director and no full-time professional director in place. IPL also is overstaffed in several key departments and its employees are well-paid compared to other city employees. Out of 100 highest paid city employees, IPL employees made up nearly two-thirds of the 2016 and 2017 lists. Many employees are nearing retirement age. Staff reductions are a way to lower IPL operating costs.
*** Status: Ongoing
conflicts of interest
The issue: IPL has awarded several multi-million projects including new Utility Center, Missouri City decommissioning, community solar and possibly advanced metering initiative. Questions have been raised about potential conflicts of interests involving City Council members and businesses benefitting from the contracts. An ethics complaint was recently filed on the issue with the city's Board of Ethics.
*** Status: Ongoing
The issue: The City Charter creates a seven-member Public Utilities Advisory Board which is given board responsibilities for overseeing all utilities operating in the City. The volunteer group has become more engaged in the past year. It has adopted rules of procedures, held public hearings, investigated costs and been more active. The PUAB has broad powers and responsibilities. Even still, it has had a problematic relationship with the City Council which often ignores what the group recommends.
*** Status: Ongoing | More info: Public Utilities Advisory Board and PUAB Powers
The issue: This was an unused power plant IPL-owned plant on the Missouri River in Clay County. The City Council decided there was a pressing need to decommission/demolish the power plant. It issued a Request for Proposals (RFP), had a weak evaluation process and selected the high bidder despite questions raised about the company. The additional cost was about $5 million.
*** Status: Missouri City plant is currently being demolished | More info: Missouri City Decommissioning