PITTSBURG — Pittsburg City Commission last week shared new details following the cancellation of its nondisclosure agreement with Evergy.
Toward the end of the Oct. 8 meeting, Commissioner Dan McNally brought up the city’s ongoing municipalization study, saying he recently received a letter from Evergy (the new brand name for Westar following its merger with KCP&L) about its survey of local residents last month.
“78% of Pittsburg residents have a favorable view of our reliability,” Evergy wrote in its Sept. 30 letter, citing its survey. “Knowing that nearly half of the electricity Evergy provides homes and businesses comes from carbon-free sources results in 82% preferring Evergy as their energy provider.”
McNally said Tuesday he would like to “get the city’s take” on where its negotiations currently stood with Evergy.
“If we could get some kind of update I think the public would appreciate that,” McNally said.
As he has pointed out in the past, deputy city manager Jay Byers said Tuesday that the city still doesn’t know if electric municipalization is a good idea for Pittsburg.
“We’re trying to gather some numbers that will tell us — before we could even think about bringing a recommendation to you — so there’s a lot that we still need to know,” Byers said. “And to date we’ve spent about $97,000 trying to find that out.”
At each of the three city commission meetings since Evergy commissioned a survey through text messages and robo-calls in September, city officials have discussed their concerns about the survey, which City Manager Daron Hall called an “unscientific, obnoxious push poll” at the Sept. 24 meeting.
“I know when the survey came out and my phone was lighting up and everybody’s wanting answers and it’s like, ‘I thought we were operating in good faith,’” Hall said Tuesday. “It doesn’t feel like it.”
Byers said that in an email Sept. 27, an Evergy representative dropped the nondisclosure agreement it had previously demanded in its negotiations with the city. In response, Byers and other city officials said they could discuss more details than they previously had about its own municipalization study as compared to numbers from a report from Concentric Energy Advisers that was commissioned by Evergy, which apparently was the basis for a question in the Evergy survey that implied municipalization would cost Pittsburg $130-$150 million.
McNally said Tuesday the Concentric report was “kind of going around” and Byers and Hall discussed it at the meeting, but while Byers confirmed Wednesday that the city had obtained the full report, he said the city was not comfortable sharing it with the Morning Sun.
The Concentric report, however, “was clearly designed to dissuade us from considering municipalization,” Byers said Tuesday. “The bottom line is we need some realistic numbers.”