With a resolution Monday, City Council threw its support behind a future of increased renewable electric energy in Independence.
The resolution, introduced by Council Member Scott Roberson, identifies the Council’s goals regarding renewable energy and provides direction to the city manager for policies and programs related to that.
“This gives a whole new direction to energy in Independence,” Roberson said during the end-of-meeting comments. “Leon Daggett at Power & Light, the city manager, all of us have working really well together on this.
“I think this will bring all sorts of new possibilities.”
The resolution states the Council’s goal to have 10 percent of IPL’s energy supplied by sources that are not carbon-based (coal and natural gas) by the year 2018, which would conform to a state standard for investor-based utilities; as well as to increase that goal to 15 percent by 2021.
It also notes the city’s recent conversion of its streetlamps to LED lights, as well as future plans to remodel an office building for IPL’s administrative offices.
The resolution directs City Manager Robert Heacock to:
• Assure the new IPL offices are designed to minimize energy use and incorporate renewable energy.
• Develop a feasibility study for options such as solar, wind and geothermal energy at city-owned facilities.
• Develop a study to evaluate incentives and sustainable programs regarding renewable energy that can be provided to customers.
• Provide a status report by November on those projects.
• Do a rate study for residential, commercial and industrial customers, including provisions for renewable energy programs, and report back to the Council by May 2015.
Other directions include shutting down the coal-fired Missouri City Power Plant and phasing out coal at the Blue Valley Power Plant by January 2016 – both plans that have been in the works – and producing a report by next July outlining options and costs for disposing the Missouri City plant.
As he did following a City Council meeting in May – when the Sierra Club presented Mayor Eileen Weir with a large collection of petitions urging the Council to support plans for renewable energy and phasing out coal – IPL Director Daggett reiterated the steps his department already has taken.
In May, Daggett said the Blue Valley plant has the ability to run on natural gas and requires just a “flip of the switch.” He added that the city gets 5 percent of its power resources from a Salina, Kansas, wind farm and that his department is considering the possibility of a solar panel farm.
“This just confirms what we’ve said we’re going to do,” Daggett said Monday. “It puts it in writing.”
Andy Knott, one of several Sierra Club in attendance, termed Monday a “watershed moment” for the city in terms of energy planning.
“It solidifies a lot of the conversations they have been having,” he said. “We applaud the City Council for taking this leadership and listening to the people.”
Another resolution passed Monday stated the Council’s intent to have the health care plan for city employees extend its available coverage to those employees’ spouses regardless of the state in which the marriage license was granted. Essentially, it allows for same-sex couples to have both individuals covered – though the Council is not challenging Article I, Section 33 of the Missouri Constitution, which states that marriages must be between a man and woman to be valid and recognized in the state.
After the Council supported member Karen DeLuccie’s motion to suspend the rules and allow for a citizen’s comment before passing the resolution, Independence resident Thad McCullough expressed his gratitude.
“I’m very proud of Independence and love my community dearly,” he said. “I’m just proud of how our Council is even considering this resolution.”