Powerful plan

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

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.