“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead.
This favorite quote proves true in countless instances. One example is right here in our midst. A small group of concerned citizens is making a difference in Independence.
The group, Indy Energy, “promotes a broader understanding and discussion of energy issues facing the community including the environment, rates and economic development.”
A couple of the members, attorney Roger Hershey and former City Council Member Jason White, seem to be leading in trying to get people to understand how their residential energy works, what they are paying is too high, and that there are better environmental alternatives.
That is a lot to take on for one small group – more like David and Goliath, especially considering they are going up against Independence Power and Light. Indy Energy’s website (IndyEngery.org) spells it out well.
First, Independence is running two of the oldest coal-burning power plants in the state. The Missouri City power plant is the oldest in the state, and the Blue Valley power plant is the fourth oldest.
A 2011 master plan study by Sega Engineering and Technical Services is on the Indy Energy website. This study recommended that due to its age, inefficiencies and adverse environmental impacts, the Missouri City power plant be retired by January 2014. Sega estimates it would cost in excess of $27 million to bring the plant up to compliance standards by 2016. However, the city has notified the Missouri Department of Natural Resources that it would cease burning coal at this plant by 2016, unless compliance regulations are delayed.
Additionally, Sega estimates the cost of compliance for the Blue Valley plant to be more than $78 million – if it continues to burn coal. If the plant converts to natural gas – a non-renewable resource – compliance costs would be more than $25 million.
Second, when comparing residential pay rates since 2000, Indy Energy’s research shows that the average residential user in Independence from March 2012 to February 2013 paid the highest monthly bills – more than 4 percent higher than Kansas City Power & Light customers and more than 7 percent higher than Board of Public Utilities customers in Kansas City, Kan.
Third, nothing is much more abhorrent than what we do to our earth than the entire process of coal burning, from mining to burning. Yes, I know we need the fuel – there are other ways of gaining electricity, much less environmentally costly ways. Almost 15 years ago, 52 percent of our electricity was coal mined; now only 37 percent comes from coal.
Some of this may sound familiar to those who dealt with the Iatan power plant several years ago. A small group of concerned citizens banded together against KCP&L and made a difference.
Find out more, become concerned, do something! Attend the Indy Energy meeting at 10 a.m. Jan. 11 at the North Independence branch of the Mid-Continent Public Library. Check out Indy Energy’s website. Go Green!
Lynn Youngblood is the executive director of the Blue River Watershed Association in Kansas City and a residential energy client service coordinator certified by the National Energy Retrofit Institute.