On July 21 the Independence City Council approved Resolution 14-758 declaring the council’s support for renewable electric energy, identifying the council’s goals regarding renewable energy and directing the city manager to develop programs and policies related to renewable energy.
I am a lifelong resident of Independence and have worked in the electricity industry for more than 30 years. I am a journeyman lineman, having worked in construction for six years, Independence Power and Light for 11 years and as a business representative for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 53 for 13 1/2 years. Throughout my career, I have been committed to broadening my knowledge about the power industry, climate changes and emerging technologies for electric generation and transmission.
As a citizen of Independence, and in my professional capacities, I have concerns about the resolution sponsored by 3rd District Council Member Scott Roberson. IPL has been successful in maintaining affordable rates and 99.9 percent reliability by generating power at its two municipally owned coal-fired plants and purchasing power from the Southwest Power Pool. Council Member Roberson’s resolution directs the city manager to cease the use of coal as a fuel sources at the Blue Valley Power Plant by January 2016 and retire or demolish the Missouri City Power Plant by July 2015.
This is a hasty initiative by Council Member Roberson that is not supported by any studies on the projected cost to rate payers in the city. Renewable energy is an emerging market, and renewable sources such as solar and wind energy cannot compete with coal on the basis of cost or reliability. I support the council’s vote to continue to explore alternative energy sources as advancements in technologies make these options affordable but urge the council to strongly consider the impact of these decisions over the long term.
Councilman Roberson has been critical of the current rate structure adopted by IPL, stating his objections to the rates at numerous public meetings, yet he is eager to move away from the financially stable coal market and into natural gas and renewable markets, which are much more volatile in both cost and dependability.
Given my professional knowledge on this topic, the deadlines presented by Council Member Roberson are overly aggressive and irresponsible and will burden the customers of IPL with higher rates.
Bruce VanCompernolle lives in Independence.