On Wednesday 04/12/2017 MIDC and the  Board of Public Utilities hosted a lunch and learn opportunity to help their commercial/industrial customers better understand their energy charges and what factors might influence their monthly energy bill.

13 people representing 7 McPherson businesses were in attendance. The McPherson BPU has been a valued partner to McPherson Industry and the McPherson Industrial Development Company since it began in 1969. They are a public service institution which is essentially owned by the customer and wants their customers to reap the benefits of having a public utility by helping them understand the advantages- full attention to customer service, high reliability, attractive rates, commitment to the local community, and local decision-making.

Tim Maier, BPU’s General Manager, presented to the group. Maier started the lunch and learn by explaining the interconnected and mutually beneficial relationship they hold with Westar Energy where the McPherson BPU serves as Westar’s on call “peak” power provider in exchange for the ability to purchase wholesale energy off of Westar’s “base” electric generators. McPherson’s competitive and reliable rates are credited, in large part, to their relationship with Westar. Maier also explained that BPU electric rates and the formulas on which they are calculated vary depending on customer classification – residential, commercial, or industrial and that a company’s electric demand will determine their classification. Lastly, Maier explained the two main factors that can affect the monthly bill; those factors are:

  • Power Factor-Power factor of 100% says that all the current that BPU is providing is doing work. If the power factor is less than 100% then BPU is providing some current that the customer could provide, reducing cost.
  • Load Factor– Load Factor is kW at 100% yielding your kWh vs. actual kWh; basically how effectively are you using the energy supply.

He explained that customers could lower their demand and therefore billing charges if they can improve these factors; for example having capacitors installed will improve a company’s power factor and spreading load, i.e. switching from a 24/5 to 24/7 operation might improve a company’s load factor; however the solutions to improving these factors may not make business sense for all customer operations.

After discussing how charges were set, Maier let the audience know that the BPU recently added renewable energy to their mix. Before January 2017 nearly all of BPU’s purchased energy came from fossil fuels.  Maier explained that the current pricing for renewables is very competitive; this coupled with the fact that some customers are paying closer attention to their ecological footprint made the decision to add renewables to their supply an easy one.

The main purpose of the lunch and learn was to ensure customer’s understood how they were being billed, what effects billing and how they could take the information and possibly make changes to lower their charges. Being a municipal utility, McPherson BPU’s success is dependent on the success of it’s customers. The BPU strives to maintain the low-cost operating environment in McPherson and hopes that this continues to benefit McPherson Businesses so they can do what they do best: keep creating wealth and great jobs for our Community.

If you were unable to make the presentation and would like a copy of the presentation materials, please contact us.