PITTSBURG — The City of Pittsburg is continuing its exploration of the possibility of owning the city’s electric service.
The city commissioned a study from GE Warren Associates on the feasibility of purchasing — as state law allows — the local electrical grid from Weststar and forming a public utility.
At Tuesdays’ Pittsburg City Commission meeting, the representative from GE Warren — who said he was a “big proponent” of public power — said the number of customers in Pittsburg would make a city-owned power utility larger than 85 percent of public utilities in the U.S.
Additionally, he said, the utility would generate roughly $35 million in gross sales per year, with an internal rate of return of 9.6 percent per year, adding that — given a 20 year note — the utility would be profitable starting year one.
According to a release from the city, the reason behind exploring forming a utility comes down to costs.
“With the city’s electricity costs increasing at a rate that was unsustainable without introducing tax increases, businesses deterred from Pittsburg due to high electricity rates, and enquiries from citizens about frequent rate increases and the overall cost of electricity, it was clear that different options should be explored,” the release read.
“We have taken a comprehensive and deliberate approach over the last couple of years to bring us to where we are today, which is the recommendation to take the next logical step and conduct an in-depth analysis into the option of public power on behalf of the citizens, businesses and industries of Pittsburg,” Pittsburg City Manager said in the release “America’s electricity utilities are about 60 percent public power, and they serve around 49 million people. In fact, 118 communities in Kansas like ours are already successfully powered by a public utility. This isn’t something new – it’s something that’s proven to provide cost control for customers and a better environment for businesses, improve reliability and customer service, create jobs and strengthen the local economy with local control and accountability.”
No action was taken as a result of the report and city officials are expected to report back to the commission with further recommendations at a later meeting.
In other business, the commission:
• Elected Commissioner Patrick O’Bryan as mayor and Commissioner Dawn McNay as commission president.
• Approved the sale of $2.5 million in general obligation bonds and associated resolutions for various projects around the city. The bonds had 18 banks bidding and were sold to Country Club Bank in Kansas City with an interest rate just over two percent — an exceptionally low rate.
• Heard a yearly report from the Active Transportation Advisory Board, and:
• Heard a yearly report from the Farmer’s Market Advisory Board.
— Patrick Richardson is the managing editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. He can be emailed at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter @PittEditor.