BPU among the best in national contest

The Kansas City, Kansas, Board of Public Utilities has won a national bronze award for its corporate communications program in the corporate responsibility category.

The BPU was recently named a “Bronze Stevie” award winner in the 2020 American Business Awards.

The awards are a national awards program for businesses. A panel of judges recognized the BPU for its continued efforts to better the community and the environment, according to a BPU spokesman.

A spokesman stated that the BPU is committed to maintaining, investing in and protecting the local community, its customers and the environment. The BPU gives back to Wyandotte County through three core areas – community giving, volunteerism and environmental education and advocacy, according to the spokesman.

The BPU’s community giving efforts included raising $58,000 for children through its annual charity golf tournament in 2019; collecting more than $200,000 for the United Way; and helping 600 households through its utility assistance program last year.

Volunteerism efforts included a toy drive for homeless children, Thanksgiving meals delivery and adopt-a-family programs for the needy, according to the spokesman.

Ongoing environmental education and advocacy initiatives helped promote a sustainable future through energy efficiency and water conservation efforts, including videos featuring energy and water-saving tips, a video on the benefits of using renewable energy and a new Kids’ Zone webpage providing environmental and safety information for children.

The American Business Awards are considered the nation’s preeminent business awards program, with more than 3,600 nominations and 230 judges in 2020 from organizations of all sizes and in almost every industry, according to the spokesman. Two of the total four recognized companies alongside BPU in this year’s social responsibility category included MasterCard and Mercedes Benz.

The “Stevies” are considered the Oscars of the business community, according to the New York Post.

Moody’s upgrades BPU’s credit rating

Moody’s recently upgraded the Board of Public Utilities’ credit rating from A3 to A2, with a stable outlook, according to a BPU spokesman.

The upgrade reflects the utility’s successful management of environmental compliance standards and the change in BPU’s energy mix, with a lesser reliance on coal and more dependency on natural gas and other renewable energy sources including wind and solar, according to the spokesman.

Moody’s noted that BPU continues to report stable financial metrics, including coverage and liquidity, and that these metrics have remained stable despite the need for increased debt service in order to comply with new federal MATS environmental standards.

In addition, BPU was recently recognized with the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Award from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) for its accounting and financial reporting, and its comprehensive annual financial report.

“BPU is pleased with this recent credit rating upgrade, which acknowledges the utility’s diversification of its portfolio toward renewable energy, as well as our stable financial metrics,” stated Don Gray, general manager of BPU. “BPU has been meeting the electric and water needs of this community for more than 100 years, and we continue to position BPU to meet all of Wyandotte County’s utility needs well into the future.”

– Story from BPU

Citizens group attends BPU meeting

Members of 21st Century KCK Citizens United attended tonight’s Board of Public Utilities meeting. (Photo by William Crum)

by William Crum

More than 250 people, many of them members of 21st Century KCK Citizens United, attended tonight’s Board of Public Utilities meeting.

The citizens group held a community meeting March 26 that it called “The People vs. the BPU.” The citizens group surveyed people about their BPU bills and is studying issues connected with them.

At the beginning of the meeting Board President David Alvey explained the roles of the board, and the general background of BPU itself. He also stated the board encourages people to come to the board meetings and find out what is really going on. He said this is not a political forum at all.

“We set the policies for the board,” he said. He also said, “We as board members do not know about everyone’s bill. In fact,” he said, “it is illegal for us to do so. This is why we have members of the staff there to answer all questions.”

After that BPU chief communications officer David Mehlhaff gave a speech regarding the various departments of the BPU, plus he gave an explanation on such things as why BPU uses the Smart meter system and how to read a utility bill.

Prior to Mehlhaff’s speech a lot of people decided to walk out of the meeting. In fact, some of the members of the audience appeared to be very disgusted and left, while others chose to stay around and listen.

After the meeting members of the BPU staff stayed around to answer questions about the residents’ utility bills.

Security also was increased at tonight’s BPU meeting.

Board of Public Utilities President David Alvey explained to a visiting citizens’ group tonight that the board members set policy for the utility, while the BPU staff deals with bills. (Photo by William Crum)