Overview & History
Throughout its history, KMEA has continued to find new ways to help its member cities address the ever-increasing challenges of providing electricity to their customers.
Those methods have included monitoring legislative and regulatory issues and advocating on the behalf of members, negotiating economical prices and long-term contracts for power, keeping tabs on trends and events that will affect our industry, and capitalizing on situations that present opportunities for our members.
In September of 1972 preliminary power supply studies were completed for the Northwest Kansas Power Agency which was made up by the cities of Colby, Ellis, Goodland, Hill City, LaCrosse, Norton, Oakley, Oberlin, St. Francis and Sharon Springs.
The studies that this group conducted reached the conclusion that, although the demand for electricity continued to grow, the area continued to be served mainly by isolated municipal electric systems and by delivery of power through relatively low voltage and limited capacity transmission systems. These cities set about to remedy part of this problem by issuing revenue bonds to finance and build interconnection facilities.
Then in 1977, after successfully getting Senate Bill 152 passed by the legislature during the 1977 session, the Northwest Cities joined forces with the objective of developing an adequate, economical and reliable long-term power supply for their customers.
By the beginning of 1980, a group of cities on the east side of the state were forming their own agency with the same objectives as the Northwest Cities. After several meetings between the two groups, the 23 cities from the Eastern part of Kansas joined the Agency and by May of 1980 the Agency was renamed the Kansas Municipal Energy Agency.
The Agency was authorized by the Act to plan, finance and constructs projects for the purchase, sale, generation and transmission of electricity for the purpose of securing an adequate, economical and reliable supply of electricity and other energy for its members and transmit the same through the distribution systems of the members. The Agency was also authorized to issue and sell revenue bonds for the purpose of providing funds to pay all or part of the cost of the acquisition, purchase and construction of such projects
In 1982, the Agency completed its first power supply project named the Nearman Project by purchasing 37.5 MW from the Kansas City, Kansas Board of Public Utilities Nearman Unit Number 1.
Since 1983, the Agency has succeeded in bringing hydropower into the state from the Southwest Power Administration and the Western Area Power Administration, along with numerous other power supply.
In 1998, KMEA was successful in getting the original Act from 1976 changed to eliminate the need for its members to have a generating municipal electric utility. With this change in the enabling legislation, it opened the doors for “distribution only” municipal electric systems to become KMEA members.
Today, 78 Kansas Municipalities benefit from being members in KMEA. By joining KMEA, these cities join together to strengthen their effectiveness in dealing with common challenges. Through the joint action approach, the cities employ the Agency to undertake projects that they would find impractical if attempted separately.