The municipally owned Independence Power & Light (IPL) boasts on its website that “residents are not just utility customers; they are also the owners of the utility.” On the solar front, however, residents are not so much owning the utility as getting owned by it.
Credit here to 41 KSHB Kansas City for reporting news on a sustainable energy project in a way that is less than glowing, considerably less. This is a rare act of unorthodoxy among the news media, local or national.
On Thursday, IPL presented the Public Utilities Advisory Board (PUAB) with an analysis of the project that has area residents steaming. The analysis shows that the city is projected to lose more than $15 million dollars over the next 25 years.
This summer, before analyzing the success or failure of an earlier project, city leaders placed thousands of new solar panels on what had recently been the Rockwood Golf Course. They did so without informing the residents. Needless to say, residents who bought a home thinking they would be looking out on a pleasant expanse of grass were not thrilled to find themselves looking out on a sterile field of glass.
According to 41 KSHB, neighbors felt they should have been allowed to vote on a project of which they are alleged to be owners. “It’s so devastating that they destroyed a community resource but now they’re going to bankrupt the city,” said Beverly Harvey, who has a home on the former golf course. “It’s unbelievable what they’ve done.”
Independence residents were steamed that their utility bills have been climbing, and no one is telling them why. Garland Land, the one PUAB board member interviewed, was not at all pleased by the IPL’s failure to do reasonable costs projections before expanding. “We could’ve done this type of analysis before we went into Rockwood,” said Land. “It wasn’t done.”