Archive for Monday, November 15, 2010

Powerful plan

It would be nice if power generated by one of the city’s oldest companies could be used here at home.

November 15, 2010


It’s great to see the Bowersock Mills and Power Co. moving forward on a plan to build a new hydroelectric plant on the north bank of the Kansas River.

It’s a little disappointing, however, that all of the power generated by the plant will be shipped to customers in Wyandotte County.

Bowersock officials announced last week that they had signed a 25-year deal to sell all of the power generated by both of their plants to the Kansas City Board of Public Utilities, which will distribute it in growing areas of Wyandotte County. The commitment is a huge boon for Bowersock’s overall plans because it clears the way for the company to start selling more than $23 million in federal bonds to finance the new project.

The project is wonderful for Lawrence. As City Commissioner Aron Cromwell noted, it “will make us a real leader in the Midwest in terms of production of renewable energy.” It’s unfortunate, however, that Bowersock was unable to reach a deal with the local electric provider, Westar Energy, to purchase the power the plant will produce. We hope city and Westar officials will explore new ways to work with Bowersock in the future — particularly because the city of Lawrence, through its taxpayers, has spent considerable sums to preserve and strengthen the Kansas River dam that maintains water levels to drive the power turbines.

Environmental concerns have created new interest in clean, renewable sources of power, like hydroelectric plants. The Bowersock firm has used the force of the Kansas River to generate power at its existing location for 132 years. It’s nice to see the company building on such a great Lawrence tradition.


LogicMan 7 years, 4 months ago

If the power is added to the grid, and not via dedicated lines to KC, then the power will mostly be consumed locally anyway.

Where the money comes from to build, and who pays to use the power, are just separate accounting issues. Westar must have determined that its wind farms are less expensive than this project.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 4 months ago

As LogicMan points out, none of this power will be shipped directly to Wyandotte County. They'll merely be paying for the amount of electricity these hydroelectric dams supply to the grid through Bowersock.

If Lawrence wants to go "green," the greatest and most immediate impact its citizens can have is to reduce their own levels of energy consumption. Next would be to oppose the construction of the Holcomb power plant and support the construction of wind- and solar-generating capacity which would allow the reduction and eventual elimination of other coal and nuclear generating plants.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 4 months ago

We are ready to buy power from Bowersock!

overthemoon 7 years, 4 months ago

But wait! Free Market forces will determine the costs and suppliers of our goods, right? We 'vote' with our purchasing power and demand quality and competitive pricing or we'll take our business elsewhere, right? Oh. Right. We have no choice on our utility providers, no way to bargain for better pricing. We are at the mercy of the stockholders who are interested only in their own profit...Boy, gotta love that Free Market forcey stuff.

What we really need is equitable buy-back of power for those who would like to install solar or wind generators on their property. Westar makes it a very expensive and unfeasible proposition by charging its customers 'retail' rates...while buying back excess power at 'wholesale' rates. THAT is something both local and state governments should be looking into. I'm sure its a top priority for the new Governor Elect.....

littlexav 7 years, 4 months ago

ACTUALLY, Kansas passed a net metering law, and the KCC has promulgated regulations that help enforce it. Utilities are required to buy back energy at a 1:1 ratio (i.e. at "retail" rates). You don't get a "check" for extra energy put back onto the grid, but you can carry balances forward for up to 2 years.

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