Pittsburg closer to having its own public power utility


The city of Pittsburg is getting one step closer to creating its own public power utility.

During last night’s commissioner meeting, city leaders considered moving toward an affordable energy plan that could benefit the community and local businesses. With Pittsburg having its own public power utility, the community could see lower energy costs. Something that the city manager says may help bring in more business.

As electricity costs continue to rise, Pittsburg city leaders are looking to make their own public power utility. The decision comes after city commissioners met with stakeholders — like Pitt State, Via Christi Hospital, and the school district — to see if having its own energy was a better option financially.

“Having the community be in control of their own destiny, with regards to how they’re going to spend their money, decisions they’re going to make about power, what kind of power they want and what they should pay for it, it’s critical,” says Daron Hall, City Manager for Pittsburg.

And introducing a city-owned utility company isn’t a new idea. More than 118 communities in Kansas are powered by a public utility. The city of Pittsburg, who currently gets power from Westar, is hoping this new plan will bring down electrical costs and make the area more enticing to businesses.

“Because right now we have had a problem with the electricity being a stumbling block for businesses locating here. Not the smaller retail types, but when you’re talking about industry coming to town. We’ve been told repeatedly that we’re the most expensive power in 5 state area,” says Daron Hall.

Meanwhile, a study was conducted with stakeholders to see how cost effective the public utility would be in the area. For example, many PSU alumni go on to work and live in the area, so the institution believes having a public power utility locally could be another reason their students choose to stay here.

“Well, we’re supportive of anything that makes Pittsburg an affordable place to live, and start a business and raise a family. So, we’re curious to see how this turns out and we’re supportive of the investment investigating it,” says Abigail Fern, Chief Marketing Officer for PSU.

Right now, the city plans on meeting with Westar representatives, to compare the differences between the current provider and a city-owned public power utility.

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