The City of Houston held several meetings over the last several days to chart alternatives on electric wholesalers. The review was sparked after the community received notification that Sho-Me Power Corp. will end its sales to 15 municipalities in late 2013.
City Administrator Larry Sutton said Tuesday that the process will be a long one to determine what solution may work best for Houston. “This is a complicated and difficult process which will take a lot of time to put together,” Sutton said. “The process could take up to two years.”
On Jan. 27, representatives from Cabool and Houston met with Westar Energy, the largest electric energy provider in Kansas. It provides power to about 684,000 customers. Stan Newton explained services that might be provided during a two-hour meeting.
Two days later, area cities met in Rolla in a meeting organized by state Sen. Frank Barnitz. Brent Stuart, an attorney with Associated Electric, gave an overview of the steps required as the towns look at alternatives.
Stuart assisted the City of Ava in switching from Sho-Me Power to the Missouri Joint Municipal Electric Utility Commission, which was started by six charter members and has grown to a membership of 58 consumer-owned systems ranging in size from 700 to 87,000 meters. These municipal and cooperative electric systems serve 347,000 retail customers.
On Tuesday, a Houston delegation traveled to Columbia to meet with that organization. Earlier, Sutton said the city learned that it could enter a contract and “buy in” to the group, and Houston will be guaranteed power, but the cost to do so would be expensive. Opting out at some point also would be costly, he said.
Sutton said it is hoped another meeting of communities affected might result in the formation of a pool or cooperative. Several issues would be required to be resolved:
*What percentage of voting rights each city would have.
*Hiring a consultant.
*Retaining an attorney with knowledge of utility contracts.
A related story appears in this week’s Messenger.