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Wind power provider suing city over power usage

The city of Independence is being sued for more than half a million dollars in a dispute over wind-generated electricity.

Smoky Hills Winds Project II accuses the city of a breach-of-contract in a lawsuit filed Jan. 23 in federal court.

“We think our case is strong. Of course, they think their case is strong,” Independence Power and Light Director Leon Daggett said Monday.

Independence Power and Light buys about 15 megawatts a day – 5 percent of IPL’s power – from Smoky Hills, but the day-to-day generation and distribution of power for IPL and many other utilities is set by the Southwest Power Pool. That’s the group that, for example, tells IPL on a given day whether to fire up the Blue Valley plant on Truman Road.

Smoky Hills contends in court that the Southwest Power Pool caused “curtailments” of power being sent to Independence several times from March 2012 through September 2014.

“We were prepared, willing and ready to take the power,” Daggett said.

Smoky Hills says that cost it $544,553, of which the city has only paid $18,648.

Smoky Hills, west of Salina, Kansas, is operated by an Italian renewable energy company, Enel Green Power S.p.A. It says even if there are disruptions, the city is obligated to pay and work out a refund.

“We contend that we shouldn’t have to pay,” Daggett said.

He said the city and Smoky Hills have negotiated the dispute but that that’s gone nowhere. The city has bought power from the facility for about six years.

“The issue here is when the power is curtailed by a third party,” Daggett said.

At this point, he said, it’s headed for a judge and the city just wants the issue to away “because now it’s a matter of principle.”

Smoky Hills has filed a similar lawsuit against Springfield, Missouri, which also owns its own electric utility.