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Some Lawrence officials frustrated by delayed energy debate

January 21, 2019

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Several Lawrence officials and residents have expressed frustration that the City Commission didn’t discuss an offer to power the city exclusively with wind energy before the option was no longer available.

City staffers said Westar Energy’s offer was under review but officials hadn’t determined whether the energy plan was worth pursuing, the Lawrence Journal-World reported . Westar had approached some of its large-demand customers in July to purchase wind energy at a fixed rate for the next 20 years.

The Missouri-based utility had 200 megawatts of wind power available from a planned wind farm to be in operation by next year, and the energy reservations were offered on a first-come, first-served basis. All energy has since been allocated.

Douglas County, the city of Manhattan, the University of Kansas and Kansas State University were among the entities that took advantage of Westar’s 1.8 cents per kilowatt hour fuel rate offer for a 20-year term.

Lawrence officials don’t have a current figure of how much the city paid for energy in 2018. But two years ago, Lawrence paid 10.8 cents total per kilowatt hour, according to information provided by Jasmin Moore, Douglas County’s sustainability director.

Mayor Lisa Larsen and Commissioners Jennifer Ananda and Matthew Herbert said they wished the contract proposal would have been discussed when action could have been taken.

Dave Wagner, the city’s municipal services and operations director, told city commissioners this past week that the city had been working on a cost-benefit analysis of the proposed energy contract. Although the analysis wasn’t complete in time to take action, the city will be more prepared in the future, he said.

City Manager Tom Markus said that in hindsight, he would have provided a report to the commission earlier. He said city staff will pay attention to such notifications in the future.

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Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com