Shawnee Mission School District signs on to KCP&L renewable energy program

KCP&L will look to develop a wind farm to provide renewable energy for Renewables Direct customers. Photo credit Reyner Media. Used under a Creative Commons license.

The Shawnee Mission School District on Wednesday became the latest public institution to sign on to Kansas City Power and Light’s Renewables Direct program, which would provide power to district facilities through electricity generated by renewable sources.

Under the agreement approved by the board of education on Monday, Shawnee Mission will get 80 percent of its energy from a KCP&L renewable sources over the course of five years. The district should have the opportunity to sign on to an extension after the five year period is complete if it desires.

As Joan Leavens, the district’s coordinator of sustainability and community engagement, told the board last night, the agreement comes “with very small financial risk to the district and a great opportunity for cost savings.”

KCP&L is in the process of working to amass enough subscriptions to the program from large corporate and public customers to represent between 100 and 200 megawatts of monthly demand. With that level of commitment, the utility could justify the cost of developing a wind farm to provide the renewable energy. The company’s website suggests that KCP&L expects to “procure renewable generation to support the program later in 2019.”

Several Johnson County cities have signed on to the program as well. Prairie Village and Mission were among the earliest to approve agreements, and Shawnee just adopted an agreement at its council meeting this week. While many local cities’ energy needs tend to be relatively modest given their limited facilities, the school district — with its dozens of large schools and support buildings — represents a much larger demand.