Gardner Electric Utility Board members reviewed possible changes to a meter testing policy during a work session Sept. 19.
Under the proposed policy, Gardner Energy would establish a routine to regularly test — at least once every 10 years — commercial and residential electric meters for accuracy.
When a faulty meter is found, the policy spells out how Gardner Energy staff will deal with the situation. Should a meter under-register by 2 percent or more, the utility company may bill the customer for up to six months of under-charges. If the energy company is at fault for the under-registering meter, the consumer will not be charged.
When energy workers find a meter that is overcharging, the costumer will be due a refund.
A sudden large bill could be a hardship for consumers, Bill Krawczyk, Gardner Energy Director, said, but the energy company will work with customers when the situation arises.
Board member Ryan Beasley said in perception, the policy will never be fair.
“We may think it’s fair, but to the consumer it won’t be,” he said.
Gardner Energy started testing all meters in the last few years, and for now, they are simply notifying those with faulty meters that under-charge that their utility bills may increase as their meters are repaired.
“It’s always good to have a policy in place so you can blame it on the policy,” Beasley said.
In other business, board members:
• discussed turning over two Gardner Engergy-owned breakers to Kansas City Power and Light. The breakers, which are part of the Moonlight substation, are located on land owned by KCP&L.
Krawczyk said KCP&L approached the city about 20 years ago with a project to install two gas-fired turbins at the Moonlight substation, where Gardner owns the north half and KCP&L owns the south half.
Since 2005, the Gardner Energy has been responsible for maintenance, but because the breakers are located on KCP&L property, Gardner Energy officials do not have access to them.
“It’s really kind of a sticky situation,” Krawczyk said.
KCP&L has no interest in re-working the agreement between the two entities to give GE better access, Darrin McNew, GE employee, told the board.
“(KCP&L is) going to take them or it’s going to stay the same,” McNew said.
There are several advantages to turning the breakers over to KCP&L, McNew explained.
The move would eliminate the need for routine line testing, which costs Gardner Energy approximately $10,000 every 3 to 5 years.
It would also remove the liability of potential maintenance repairs.
“If one of those blew up tomorrow, we’d have to pay for it,” McNew said.
Krawczyk said the breakers are also 20 years old.
The disadvantage to giving the breaker away, he said, is just that: “We are giving away a line breaker, even we do nothing with it,” McNew said.
• heard a presentation on the benefits of Gardner Energy becoming a member of the Southwest Johnson County Economic Development Corporation.
• viewed a presentation of new security cameras that were installed following an May 29 attempted theft at the Moonlight substation. Police and Gardner Energy staff speculate the would-be thieves were attempting to steal copper from the substation. Instead, they cut locks and electric boxes knocking out power for more than 2,000 Gardner residents before running away. Police are still investigating the crime. The new cameras are able to distinguish between human movement at Gardner Energy sites.