Independence Power & Light has had trouble holding onto a director since June 2017, when Leon Daggett retired.
Recently City Hall took steps to deal with that issue by seeking to hire a management firm to run IPL for a period of time.
Frankly, I think this is a good idea due to the turmoil related to IPL the last few years.
Six firms responded to the city’s request to hire a management firm. Five appear to be legitimate firms while one appears to be a continuation of our problems at IPL.
One firm with its home in Liberty, Missouri has proposed bringing Mr. Daggett back to run IPL. Based upon the pattern of problems when he ran BPU and at IPL, maybe we should not pay him to fix things he was responsible for breaking.
While the basic proposal presented does not appear to meet the requirements needed to even be considered, folks around town are already talking about the return of Mr. Daggett.
Mr. Daggett ran the Board of Public Utilities in Kansas City, Kansas, for 10 years. Upon his termination in December 2005 he was given a reported $750,000 severance package (quite a tidy sum even 14 years ago). BPU was wracked by controversy as two senior staff who previously reported to Mr. Daggett were indicted for fraud, and there were exorbitant expense accounts and nepotism.
During his 10 years at IPL we raised our electric rates to astronomical heights. IPL has had the highest rates in the entire region until recently. The rates were launched into that position upon the recommendation of Mr. Daggett.
In 2018 a management audit of IPL pointed out serious problems with the work culture, low morale, little respect for department leadership, fear of retaliation and concerns how accusations of harassment were handled. All related to the tenure of Mr. Daggett.
Mr. Daggett is the same guy who held out to the very end of his career wanting to build a new coal power plant in Independence. The multi-billion-dollar plant was to be built in the Atherton bottoms with the land being annexed into the city limits along with the dream of selling power and making a profit. Somehow IPL with the highest rates around thought it could manage the construction of a $2 billion dollar coal plant and then also manage the sale of the power for a profit.
You may have noted that in the last 10 years hundreds of coal power plants across the U.S. have closed or shifted to natural gas, but some dreams die hard.
Be thankful that IPL did not end up with a coal plant that could live for 40 to 50 years in a world that is no longer using coal. Be thankful your electric rates are not being used to pay the mortgage for a new coal power plant.
Mr. Daggett is the same guy who retired from IPL to rake in $216,000 for a one-year contract to consult about economic development issues in Independence. He produced no reports, no memos – in fact we can’t find any evidence of anything that he did during that year remotely impacting the growth of business in Independence.
Let’s face it: Asking Mr. Daggett to return to IPL will not benefit the city of Independence nor its citizens. We have already paid dearly for Mr. Daggett, and I am not sure how he could fix what he has already broken.
Jason White is a former Independence City Council member.