Marion council adopts ‘full-boat’ language for KPP agreement

The Marion City Council at its Dec. 5 meeting grappled for a second time on whether to vote in favor of a perpetual renewing agreement for electricity when the Kansas Power Pool convenes Dec. 16.

City Administrator Roger Holter said KPP sent out supplemental information to councils, which prompted the topic of voting to be revisited.

“I don’t want to lock future councils into a 40-year term,” Holter said, adding that KPP CEO Mark Chesney is asking cities to do.

Based on the discussion from the Nov. 30 meeting, Councilor Chris Costello asked if Marion’s council really needs to make a statement.

Mayor Todd Heitschmidt said he was a council member when the city agreed to become a member of KPP.

“When I was on the council, there weren’t lofty dreams or realities out there, but today that is a concern,” he said.

Heitschmidt said KPP had 43 member cities at one time, but that number is down to 23.

“Some (member cities) didn’t want long-term contracts,” he said. “We have different goals long term. There may be technology in 20 years to produce our own (electricity) again.”

Holter said in 2012, the council adopted a 20-year contract.

“The city of Marion went from a two-year contract to a 20-year contract with KPP,” he said.

Nine cities signed with a power purchase contract that says whenever debt is issued the cities will extend their membership to handle that debt; however, those nine don’t automatically exceed 20 years.

“Our contract has no stipulation,” Holter said. “Regardless, we would purchase 20 megawatts and need to find a supplier to purchase from.”

Holter asked the council to reaffirm how it would like the city’s vote to go, and if that means anchoring to an agreement that could be a perpetual agreement.

Councilor Jerry Kline asked if the city could get “blackballed” if it doesn’t play by KPP rules?

Holter said KPP could terminate the contract and the city would have no recourse.

“But they need us, too,” Kline said.

Holter said Marion has 8 percent of the total pool demand for electricity.

“We need to do what is in the best interest of the residents,” he said. “That is the best we can do, even if it impacts the community for many, many years.”

Costello said he would change his position to vote affirmatively for the full-boat language.

“We need numbers to help protect our buying power,” he said.

The vote was 4-1 in favor of going along with the other cities. Kline voted against it.

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