Cliff Sonnenberg, Garden City Electric Superintendent, Receives 40 Year City Service Award, LKM

Cliff Sonnenberg accepts the 40 year City Service Award from Governor Colyer at the 2018 League of Kansas Municipalities (LKM) Conference on October 8, 2018 in Topeka.

Cliff made this statement about what he would like to share about his time in his Municipal Utility:

“I would encourage younger linemen who are just starting out in the electric utility trade to consider working for the municipal utility in their hometown.  It is very rewarding to be able to assist your neighbors, friends, and local organizations that make up the core fabric of your community.  Get involved in making your community a better place to live work and play.  It’s been an honor to be a part of a great team with the Electric Division.  It’s been exciting to upgrade our system with a voltage conversion project to create a more reliable and cost effective system for our customers.  It’s also been rewarding to have a well-trained line crew that we are able to send to other communities at a moment’s notice when we receive mutual aid calls for help.  We have awesome, dependable, and talented employees that work hard to serve their customers every day.”

All of us at KMEA would like to Congratulate Cliff on his accomplishment!


Strategic Planning Effort Underway

Paul Mahlberg, General Manager

“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” One of the many quotes of our nation’s 34th President, Dwight D. Eisenhower. I couldn’t agree more with this philosophical statement. Strategic planning is absolutely necessary for our agencies, especially in the quickly, ever changing world we live in with our electric and gas industries.

With that in mind, the KMEA/KMGA Joint Board of Administration requested that a strategic plannig effort be initiated during the current calendar year.  The president of KMEA (Mike Muirhead – Garden City) and of KMGA (Randy Frazer – Moundridge) created a Task Force (see below) to lead this effort.

2 Day Planning Retreat

The Task Force met in Wichita for a two day strategic planning retreat on August 28-29, 2018. This retreat was facilitated by an outside consultant, Tim Blodgett of Hometown Connections. The Task Force developed a list of meeting objectives, reviewed the trends in the electric and gas industries and in particular trends in the state of Kansas, developed a list of values and where we want the Agencies to be in 5 years, developed a list of critical issues and road blocks that could impede our progress, developed a list of members’ needs, and finally completed a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities/Threats) analysis. With the ultimate goal: set the direction for the two agencies over the next five years. The process resulted in the group establishing the following Three Strategic Areas of Focus:

  • Strategic Growth
  • Communications/Identity
  • Organization


Next Steps

There is still much work to do to finalize the plan.  Staff will be developing specific and measurable goals and action items under each of the 3 strategic areas for review. These will be vetted by the Task Force prior to presentation to the KMEA and KMGA Executive Committees. Eventually the strategic plan will be presented to each of the full boards in May of next year. We will briefly update you more at the next Board meetings during our annual conference on October 18 in Wichita.  See you all in Wichita and let’s go make Ike proud of his fellow Kansas’s!

Strategic Planning Task Force

  • Mike Muirhead (Garden City)
  • Nathan Law (Louisburg)
  • Randy Frazer (Moundridge)
  • Brad Ewy (Cheney)
  • Duane Banks (Russell)
  • Taggart Wall (Sterling)
  • Tyson McGreer (Colby)
  • Ethan Reimer (Halstead)
  • Merl Page (Wamego)
  • Jonathan Mitchell (Hoisington)
  • Rod Willis (Osage City)
  • Jason Rabe (Beloit)
  • Dennis Tharp (Ottawa)
  • Gus Collins (Winfield)
  • Bob Mills (Garnett)
  • Gary Emry (Hesston)
  • Mike Shook (Coffeyville)
  • Colin Hansen (KMU)

More To Come

I get concerned when I hear of the retirement of a coal fired power plant. There has been approximately 600 MW of coal resources retired in 2018 alone. I know that there are plenty of generating resources on the grid to handle things now but what about the future. It wasn’t that long ago when some thought that wind energy was just a trendy thing. On December 15, 2017 SPP set a record for peak wind generation of 15,690 MW. Now with more than 19 GW of installed wind capacity in the Southwest Power Pool, wind is more than just a trend. Along with that we have to look at the 215 MW of solar installed in SPP. The economical energy produced by natural gas and renewable resources is putting a lot of financial pressure on coal and nuclear facilities. That is not the only reason but certainly a major reason for the closing of the more costly   facilities.  Below is a link to the closing of a large coal facility just south of us. There is much more to come in near future when it comes to news about how we keep coal and nuclear plants alive. Happy reading!

Click here to read the story

Awareness Campaign

About 49 million people in 49 states and five territories across the U.S. are public power customers. However, our research has shown that the majority of those 49 million people don’t even realize their utility is community-owned. We need to make them aware of this fact and explain why this matters. And we can do this more effectively if we speak with one voice. At our members’ request, the American Public Power Association developed a national campaign to raise awareness of public power.

The campaign is built on the theme “Community Powered” and is designed for Association members (public power utilities, joint action agencies, and state associations) to implement in your communities from October to December 2018.

We hope you will participate in the campaign and engage your communities. Let’s tell the public power story together.

Winter Gas Prices Responding to Low Storage Levels

Weekly storage injection volumes reported this summer have been below the 5 year average.  Current storage level is at 2,435 Bcf, about 25% below the five-year average.  Storage levels are projected to be below 3,300 Bcf at the end of the injection season on October 31st.  According to data from the EIA, this would be the lowest storage level going into the withdraw season in 15 years.   

The NYMEX winter strip (Dec-Feb) is finally reacting to the growing storage inventory deficit.  The posted average price for the winter strip on August 22nd was $3.13 per MMBtu.  This is an increase of 16.5 cents from the average posted price on August 1st of $2.96/MMBtu.  EIA expects natural gas spot prices to average $2.98/MMBtu for the remaining months in 2018 and $3.10/MMBtu in 2019.

Eudora begins Pole Testing

Merl Page Receives National Award “Larry Hobart Seven Hats Award”

New Orleans, La., June 19, 2018 —Merl Page, city manager for the City of Wamego, Kansas, received the Larry Hobart Seven Hats Award
at the American Public Power Association’s national conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. This award recognizes managers of small utilities serving fewer than 2,500 meters. These managers have a very small staff and must assume multiple roles. The seven hats they must wear are: planning and design, administration, public relations, field supervision, accounting, human resources, and community leadership. Since 1996 Merl has led planning and design of the electric, water, and wastewater systems as well as many community improvement projects. He is a hands-on manager and keeps a close eye on all city programs. Merl communicates regularly with local citizens and customers on a personal basis, plays an active role in publishing the Wamego city newsletter, and works to make the city’s website useful. He works with
department heads, the city clerk, and the city treasurer on the city budget each year.
He is treasurer for the Wamego Hospital Board and an ambassador for the Wamego
Chamber of Commerce.

Merl APPA Award Video


Southern Star Pipeline Explosion

Southern Star had an explosion earlier this morning on their pipeline.  Scott Robertson, Hesston’s Utility Superintendent, said he was 2.5 miles from the explosion and it shook his truck.–485657431.html

Needless to say, KMGA is getting supply cut due to this event.



Coal and Nuke Bailout?

It appears that the government is preparing a plan to bailout coal and nuclear power plants at risk of closure. I won’t bore you with the details (you can read them by clicking on the link) but it is somewhat scary thinking about what could happen to the wholesale power markets if this happens. The organized markets and low gas prices have afforded most americans with very affordable electricity for the last several years. If the government moves forward with this bailout it will undoubtedly affect the energy markets and most likely in a negative way. This creates uncertainty that will not sit well with large scale commercial and industrial customers. I’ll be hanging on with all of you to see what happens.