City of Independence, Missouri

Council votes to approve AMI “Smart” Meters at April 1 Council Meeting

The City Council of Independence voted last night to move forward with the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) project in a 4-3 vote. Councilmember Curt Dougherty asked for his fellow councilmembers to revote on the Core & Main proposal which had previously been defeated in a 5-2 vote on March 18.

The conversation around AMI began on June 1, 2015, when the City Council passed Resolution 6013 which directed the City Manager to explore the feasibility of AMI for the Water, Water Pollution Control, and Power & Light departments. Following that analysis, a Request for Proposals (RFP) for AMI was issued on April 3, 2017. The RFP was closed in May 2017, with seven vendors submitting proposals. Proposals were then evaluated and scored by City staff. A staff evaluation of proposals resulted in a recommendation for Core & Main as the highest rated overall. The Public Utility Advisory Board (PUAB) concurred with this recommendation. A contract with Core & Main was negotiated and presented to the Council on April 16, 2018 as Bill No. 17-115. Council then decided to review other proposals before making a final decision.

Both City staff and the PUAB rated Honeywell as the second overall provider. On August 13, 2018, firms who submitted the five highest rated proposals were provided an opportunity to make presentations directly to the City Council and members of the PUAB. The Council elected to gather additional information in lieu of approving the ordinance.  On November 5, 2018, the City Council passed Resolution No. 6384 authorizing the City Manager to negotiate a contract with Honeywell.

On March 7, 2019, the PUAB reaffirmed their prior recommendation for Core & Main. On March 18, both contracts from Core & Main and Honeywell were once again brought before the Council. Council members undertook a detailed discussion of the project, citizen concerns, and pros/cons of each of the contracts. Following this discussion, both proposals were voted down 5-2. Last night the City Council reconsidered this decision, and voted in favor of proceeding with AMI implementation.

Following the April 1 vote to move forward with Core & Main, City staff will now prepare an opt-out policy while also working to finalize an agreement with the company. Citizens will see a detailed implementation plan of the new meters in the coming months. The initial cost of this project is approximately $30 million. It is estimated the City will break even in eight years and will save an estimated $44 million over 15 years. This will be a 3-year deployment, with Year 1 being a Pilot Project involving the installation and testing of 5% of the water and electric meters. The City of Independence is one of the last utilities to go to AMI for electric and water metering in the Kansas City metro region.

City Council will hear information on proposed rate structure changes and alternate sources of energy as they prepare for the potential closing of the Blue Valley Power Plant as outlined in the Energy Master Plan.