Independence to lose $15 million over 25 years on solar farm project

Posted at 10:25 PM, Aug 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-23 23:25:03-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An analysis by Independence Power & Light suggests the city will lose millions of dollars paying for its solar energy project.

On Thursday, IPL presented the analysis to the Public Utilities Advisory Board.

The analysis showed the city is projected to lose more than $15 million dollars over the course of 25 years.

The first phase of the solar farm project launched on Bundschu Road last year. 

This summer, city leaders expanded the solar farm and added thousands of solar panels to the property of the former Rockwood Golf Course.

Garland Land, who serves on the PUAB, expressed concern that no one looked at the financial projections before expanding the solar farm.

"We could've done this type of analysis before we went into Rockwood, it wasn't done," Land said.

In early August, 41 Action News raised concerns over the purchase of Rockwood when residents expressed outrage that city leaders left them out of its plans to demolish the property.

Beverly Harvey, who lives on the former golf course, said she's also shocked that no one conducted a financial analysis before expanding the project.

"That makes no sense what-so-ever," Harvey said."That's just common sense."

The decision to purchase the property was made by city leaders behind closed doors. 

Harvey and her neighbors said the city should've allowed them to vote on the project. 

Other area residents have expressed their anger and frustrations over their utility bills, which many claim are at an all-time, unexplainable high.

Land said the millions lost on this project is part of the bigger issue impacting ratepayers. 

"When the city council is charging us with figuring out why our rates are high, this is just another part of the puzzle," Land said. 

In terms of renewable energy, Land mentioned the city could've used a cheaper alternative to solar energy, though he didn't specify what. 

Another PUAB member referred to the solar project as a "poor investment."

"It's so devastating that they destroyed a community resource but now they're going to bankrupt the city," Harvey said. "It's unbelievable what they've done."

The PUAB urged city leaders to pause before expanding any further on the project.