PITTSBURG — On Monday, representatives of Westar Energy, now a part of the company Evergy, visited Pittsburg to unveil new electric vehicle charging stations, as the Morning Sun reported earlier this week in its April 23 edition.
“These are just the first charging stations here in Pittsburg that are public,” said Kari West, customer solutions manager at Westar/Evergy. “So we’re pretty excited that we were able to partner with Pittsburg State University and the Kansas Technology Center to be able to offer charging, especially with their automotive program.”
While the unveiling of its charging stations at PSU may have made a good photo opportunity for Westar and given it a chance to promote the services it provides to the public, however, it appears that the company had other business in town the same day.
“The City of Pittsburg and Westar met on Monday, April 22, to discuss issues related to the creation of a municipal electricity utility,” according to a city press release emailed to the Morning Sun late Tuesday. “Together, the teams considered a full range of legal, financial, technical and regulatory requirements that need to be addressed in order for the City to create a municipal electric utility in Pittsburg.”
Both West and Jeff Martin, vice president of customer and community operations for Westar Energy and Evergy, Inc., attended both the PSU charging station unveiling and the City of Pittsburg meeting, according to City of Pittsburg Public Information Manager Sarah Runyon.
"We were encouraged by Westar’s willingness to work with us to gather the data we need that will help determine if municipalization will work for Pittsburg," Runyon said in an email. "Their help will allow us to make an informed decision and provide the citizens of Pittsburg with answers to their questions."
In March, despite opposition from Commissioner Chuck Munsell, the Pittsburg City Commission voted to approve two consultant contracts related to its plan to potentially take over providing electric service to city residents.
“As we look to the future and the major changes that are taking place in electricity markets, we appreciate Westar’s willingness to work with us while we explore our options,” Pittsburg City Manager Daron Hall said of the latest discussions with Westar, according to Tuesday’s press release. “Much information is still required in order to determine the best course of action to serve the citizens of Pittsburg.”
Over the course of the coming months, “the City of Pittsburg and Westar will work together to identify what would be required to transfer ownership and maintenance of the distribution grid, and discuss issues such as power purchase agreements and regulatory requirements,” according to the release. “Teams will start collecting data immediately and meet on a regular basis to analyze information.”