Archive for Saturday, July 3, 2010

City to consider permits for power plant

The proposed plant would be on the north banks near the Bowersock Dam.

July 3, 2010


Plans for a new hydroelectric power plant on the north bank of the Kansas River are reaching a new stage.

Two key permits for a proposal by Lawrence-based Bowersock Mills and Power Co. soon will be discussed.

City commissioners on Tuesday will consider approval of a special-use permit that would allow for a four-turbine, multi-story plant to be built just east of the Bowersock Dam.

Commissioners also are being asked to begin the process of allowing Bowersock to apply for up to $18 million in industrial revenue bonds. The bonds would be issued by the city, but backed by a financial responsibility of Bowersock.

Tuesday’s action would allow the company to begin working on securing the bonds. The city commission would be required to take another vote to issue the bonds.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also has opened a public comment period on a water quality certification permit for the project. The corps is accepting comments until July 15.

Comments can be sent to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City Regulatory Office, 601 E. 12th St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

City commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.


Richard Heckler 7 years, 8 months ago

Okay this sounds like a great idea thus far.

Who will have access to the new additional source of power?

Can east Lawrence sign up for the additional source of energy?

These are questions that need answers.

Thank you

jafs 7 years, 8 months ago

I don't need any "extra" power, and certainly don't want to spend $18 million to create it.

If we're replacing some coal-fired plant power with cleaner power, I'd consider it, but I'd have to be convinced there's a real environmental benefit.

repaste 7 years, 8 months ago

People living on Walnut might not like the noise so much.

Ken Lassman 7 years, 8 months ago


This is an expansion of the relatively small hydoelectric plant that already exists on Bowersock Dam. As such, it isn't big enough to replace a coal fired plant, but it does generate more electricity from a renewable energy source, carbon and other emissions-free.

The good thing about it is that the dam already exists, so the existing permit for the current dam and power plant covers the project as there is no additional environmental disruption of the river. Kinda like adding another story onto your house--same footprint. The reason the public is involved is that the Kaw is regulated by the US Army Corps of Engineers as a "navigable river." The city is involved because it benefits from the dam, which raises and stabilizes the level of the river enough that it gets a sizable fraction of its water supply from the Kaw.

As to who receives the electricity, I think that's up to who's willing to pay the highest price for the renewable kwh. Seems that the company ought to be able to decide that.

jafs 7 years, 8 months ago

Then shouldn't the company pay the $18 million for the project?

If the city is subsidizing the project, then we should certainly get a say in how the power is used, don't you think?

repaste 7 years, 8 months ago

"Plans for a new hydroelectric power plant on the north bank" Existing is on South?

Ken Lassman 7 years, 8 months ago


Bowersock still has to raise the money--I think the 18 million is needed so Bowersock can go find the investors--someone can correct/clarify if I'm wrong. This carbon-free, renewable power will be snatched up so quickly that your head will spin, and at a premium. Don't know exactly how the cost sharing agreement works--does anyone out there want to fill in the details?

And as far as telling folks who to sell their product to, does the city do that when they issue tax abatements to lure/retain a local business?

Repaste: Yes--existing is on the south side. This'll double output from 2.5 MW to 5

outstanding 7 years, 8 months ago

Here is the key sentence everyone needs to understand.

"Commissioners also are being asked to begin the process of allowing Bowersock to apply for up to $18 million in industrial revenue bonds. The bonds would be issued by the city, but backed by a financial responsibility of Bowersock."

Can someone please explain to me why Lawrence needs to be in the power generation business at a cost of over $7,000/kw? If this is such a great business for Bowerstock to be in, why don't they apply for Obama Bucks to finance this plant? Why should Lawrence to be on the hook for 18 million in IRB's if this fails? See Harrisburg, PA......

Flap Doodle 7 years, 8 months ago

Remember, according to merrill, brownouts are a good way to enforce energy conservation.

Ken Lassman 7 years, 8 months ago

Salmon in the Kaw? Now that's a laugh. Where are you guys from? Certainly not from around here.

The Bowersock operation has been there since the 1800s==we're not talking about a fly-by-night operation here. I find it amazing that folks are looking for a handout from the feds instead of having the city essentially act as backup so the Hill family can go look for folks to buy the bonds. Seems to me to be a sure bet; unlike so many other products, renewable energy will sell like hotcakes as it has from the south generator. What are folks afraid of--that folks will stop buying electricity???? Can you think of anything else that will guarantee to sell enough to pay off the bonds?

jafs 7 years, 8 months ago

The city should invest in items that are good for the community as a whole. Private businesses can invest in items that are good for themselves.

I am generally very uncomfortable with the variety of public/private combinations being used these days, including tax abatements, cid's, tif's, etc.

If Bowersock has a great plan for investors, let them find the investors.

If not, why should the city get involved?

If we want the city to get into the renewable energy business, then it should be city owned and operated, if public funds are used.

Ken Lassman 7 years, 8 months ago

If you're against responsible tax abatements, if you're for direct intervention as to how to run a business that gets the assistance from the city (or state or federal) government, I presume you're prepared to pay more taxes to make up for the lack of economic base that pays their taxes because they've moved on, right?

Oh, yeah, the residential taxes will be going up even more than that due to the fact that folks will have moved elsewhere where there are jobs.

jafs 7 years, 8 months ago

  1. Tax abatements don't "enlarge" or "balance" the tax base, since the businesses don't pay taxes for a long time.

  2. The city has given a number of abatements with requirements that haven't been enforced.

  3. Businesses, once the abatement period has expired can, and most often do, simply "move on".

  4. I would prefer not to subsidize businesses, but if we are going to do so, we should have some input into how the businesses are run.

Business advocates have managed to manipulate government at all levels with the notion that they "provide jobs", and that we all have to give them various deals in order to attract them to our area.

The truth is that communities "provide employees" and that communities "provide customers" as well - it is, and should be, a mutually beneficial arrangement, not one that offers businesses substantial tax breaks.

If the availability of intelligent, hard-working employees and customers isn't enough for a business to locate here, perhaps we don't need them. That's how it used to work.

blindrabbit 7 years, 8 months ago

Don't worry about the $$$$; the Feds will never approve anyway, concerned about the disruption of the annual carp migration to the pristine waters just upstream from the Lawrence sewage outfall. Kind of like salmon in the Northwest.

blindrabbit 7 years, 8 months ago

Oh, I forgot to offer fish ladders as a solution to my prior.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.