Bill Johnson, the General Manager for Kansas City BPU was the recipient of the award this year. Bill was appointed General Manager of Kansas City BPU on April 1, 2019. He has over 40 years of diverse utility experience into this executive leadership role. His responsibilities include serving as the Chief Executive Officer for the largest municipal electric and water utility in the State of Kansas. He earned an MBA from Ottawa University in 2007.
The 2023 Annual Conference was a success! The event was held in Wichita, Kansas on October 19th and 20th. We had representatives from 49 member cities and over 140 attendees total. We would like to thank all our sponsors, the conference would not be possible without their support. This year we had 21 companies sponsoring our event.
Ben Whiting was the keynote speaker and he opened the conference. His presentation was fun and inspiring! It was focused on leadership development with a touch of magic and lots of laughs.
Representatives from the Cities of Garden City, Gardner, Lindsborg, Ottawa, and Russell toured the Dogwood facility on September 21st. Dogwood is a 650 MW, natural gas fired, combined-cycle facility located in Pleasant Hill, Missouri
In 2017, KMEA entered into an asset purchase agreement with Dogwood Energy LLC for the purchase of a 10.1% ownership interest (approximately 62 megawatts) in the Dogwood Energy facility on behalf of the five cities mentioned above. Through this arrangement those cities were able to join forces to secure a life-of-unit, reliable and economic power supply resource for each of their communities. The project began providing energy to the five cities on March 30, 2018.
Following the tour a Dogwood Project Participants Committee Meeting was held at KMEA’s office.
On September 25th, Kent Balkenbusch assumed the Day Ahead System Operator position. The position was previously occupied by DJ Smith. After dedicating 7 years to KMEA DJ moved on to a new career with the Southwest Power Pool (SPP).
Kent has been employed at KMEA since 2014 and has been a system operator since 2016. In his new role Kent will be responsible for daily and monthly scheduling of power supply on behalf of KMEA member cities. Kent also monitors market conditions, oversees meter data and load forecasting, and holds a weekly operations update meeting with member cities.
On September 19,2023 Governor Laura Kelly, alongside the Kansas Infrastructure Hub (KIH), announced the launch of the Build Kansas Fund, which provides state matching dollars to Kansas communities for infrastructure projects approved under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).
The Build Kansas Fund will invest $200 million directly into Kansas communities to support projects that include water, transportation, energy, cybersecurity, and broadband through Fiscal Year 2027.
“The Build Kansas Fund makes it possible for communities across the state to seize the tremendous opportunities provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” Governor Kelly said. “These matching dollars empower our local leaders to forge ahead with projects that will grow our economy, connect people and businesses to high-speed internet, and build safer infrastructure that improves life for all Kansans.”
Governor Kelly announced the creation of the KIH in 2022 to ensure Kansas has an effective and efficient distribution of the funds received from BIL. The Kansas Infrastructure Hub, a coordinating body comprised of representatives from the Kansas Departments of Administration, Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Environment and Transportation, along with the Kansas Corporation Commission and the Kansas Water Office, will manage the Build Kansas Fund, offering technical assistance, tracking funds, and promoting grant opportunities.
“The Kansas Infrastructure Hub has been working diligently to unite cross-sector stakeholders around Kansas’ infrastructure priorities,” said Calvin Reed, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Transportation. “We look forward to supporting Build Kansas Fund applicants as they strive to optimize their BIL projects’ potential.”
Eligible entities include Kansas state agencies, counties, municipalities, special districts, community organizations, nonprofits, and federally recognized tribes that have or intend to apply for a federal BIL program requiring a non-federal match.
The Build Kansas Fund Application is live. Entities can apply via the Kansas Infrastructure Hub website at: https://kshub.org/ks-infrastructure-hub-build
To learn more about the Kansas Infrastructure Hub, visit: kshub.org
KCC announced notice of funding opportunity to provide guidance to eligible entities (electric grid operators, electricity storage operators, electricity generators, transmission owners or operators, distribution provider and fuel suppliers or other entities determined by the DOE) for preparation of subgrant applications to be submitted to the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) in response to Section 40101(d) of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).
Under this Program, the Department of Energy (DOE) provides grants to States to improve the resilience of their electric grid against disruptive events. A disruptive event, as defined by the Program, is “an event in which operations of the electric grid are disrupted, preventively shut off, or cannot operate safely due to extreme weather, wildfire, or a natural disaster.”
The City of La Crosse purchased a new 2 MW CAT generator. KMEA is assisting the City of La Crosse with the installation of the new generator. This generator will sit in the spot of an engine that was taken out of service several decades ago. Also, another key decision point to purchasing this new engine was a key engine in the plant had piston issues that is very costly to repair. The new generator arrived onsite at the power plant Thursday, September 17th. KMEA, Foley Power Solutions, and the City of Lacrosse are targeting to have the generator up and running before the end of the year. The new generator will be more automated than the existing generation for easier operations. The CAT generator will come online faster which allows for faster service to the customers when the utility is lost.
KMEA is assisting the City of Lindsborg to expand their existing substation with the addition of the second transformer. In 2022 the City of Lindsborg city council authorized the purchase of the current transformer at the substation from Evergy and add a new 10 MVA transformer. The goal for this project was to control redundancy and reliability for the city as the current transformer ages. A key factor in the decision to purchase the old transformer was the peak load on the old transformer was reaching the limit of their 7/10 MVA transformer which serves the city. The 10 MVA transformer was installed at the substation on Friday, August 18th with operation date expected later this fall. By adding the second transformer, the City will have the ability to split the load between the two transformers. It will also allow for maintenance on either transformer without having to take an outage or bring in temporary substations or generation.
Grid monitors issued dire warnings ahead of the summer that Americans could face blackouts during an extreme heat wave — but so far, that hasn’t happened.
There isn’t a simple answer for the grid’s stability despite record-breaking heat — new wind turbines, solar panels and batteries played a major role on the hottest days, but gas and coal plants remained a bedrock. Grid operators and utilities say they’re better prepared for extreme weather. And there was a dash of luck, suggesting that the outcome could have been worse.
There’s also still plenty of summer to go, and there are signs of strain.
A heat dome continues to scorch the Midwest and Southeast. The grid operators Southwest Power Pool (SPP), which covers parts of 15 states, and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) issued alerts this week signaling tight conditions. On Thursday, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) covering the central U.S. announced an emergency event requiring generators to take additional steps to meet demand but didn’t institute rolling blackouts.