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Hoisington council continues electric rates debate
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Hoisington City Council meeting at a glance

Here is a brief look at what the Hoisington City Council did Monday evening:

• In the consent agenda, approved Debbie Morris, Sarah Simic and Andrea Dolezal to the Hoisington Public Library Board, and approved Mayor Chris Kinman’s proclamation naming May 7-13 as Hospital Week at Clara Barton Medical Center.

• Approved the city’s 2022 audit report as presented by Danielle Hollingshead and Delaney Smith at Adams Brown, Great Bend.

• Appointed former Ward II council member Carrol Nather to the Ward I seat vacated by Karen Van Brimmer after discussion of candidates’ letters of intent.

• Appointed Keith A. Kennon to the Ward II seat vacated by Carrol Nather after discussion of candidates’ letters of intent.

• Accepted the bid of $61,440.02 recommended by city staff from Key Equipment & Supply Co. for a new Hurco VAC600G vacuum trailer, based on better performance capabilities.

• Continued discussion of public electric rate concerns originating from the previous meeting.

• Heard a report from Hoisington City Manager Jonathan Mitchell on current city operations.

HOISINGTON — City Manager Jonathan Mitchell opened Monday’s continued discussion of electric rates in the community noting that the “reason the rates went up is because our cost of energy is going up.”

Mitchell noted that from 2020 to this year, the cost of purchased energy has nearly doubled.

“We have tried to keep our power cost adjustment (PCA) at zero for a number of years, but it’s gotten to the point where we can no longer do that,” he said.

Complaints from the community began following the August billing period, he said. “Any time our purchase power in rate structure rises above 5.437 cents, that additional cost is passed on to the community.”  

A rolling average was constructed by city staff to try to smooth out the PCA, he said. “The benefit of the rolling average is supposed to make it a little more level.”  

An analysis of usage by the local grocery store led to comparisons with other communities. “What we found out was that there was a significant difference in consumption,” Mitchell explained. 

Investigation into the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) revealed the opportunity for a no-cost energy audit, The city had an audit done about 10 years ago, followed by changes to lighting and HVAC systems. 

“The changes we made for savings and energy cost helped us to purchase equipment,” he said. 

Because the city is a non-profit entity, assistance wasn’t available. For-profit businesses this year were able to take advantage of an expansion of the program that included a 50% reimbursement for expenses. 

“We are pretty excited about this,” he said, noting that for-profit businesses in Hoisington that choose to take advantage of the program have a larger benefit. “We now have a contact out of K-State for that.” 

However, the federally-funded program is out of funds for this year due in part to the increased reimbursement. On July 1, the program will be refunded, Mitchell said.

“I think this is something that we can do a better job of informing our business community about,” he said. “Once they have funds back out there, we need to encourage people to reach out to our contact at K-State.

“I think it would be a good program for any of our for-profit businesses,” he said.