hen it comes to powering success, anticipating the future needs of your customers is a key opportunity to establish a competitive edge.
This approach has enabled the McPherson Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to remain a top asset to companies looking to establish roots in Kansas. So much so that the American Public Power Association awarded the McPherson BPU a “Certificate of Excellence in Reliability” in 2022.
“Our electrical rates are our competitive advantage,” says McPherson BPU General Manager Josh Bedel. “The McPherson BPU is the top reason companies choose McPherson for relocation and expansion.”
Across three metrics — System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI), System Average Interruption Frequency Index (SAIFI) and Customer Average Interruption Duration Index (CAIDI) — McPherson BPU performed well above regional and national averages. In terms of SAIDI, the average length of time a BPU customer’s power was interrupted was only 8.21 minutes, compared to a regional average of 98.67 minutes and a national average of 115.7 minutes.
“The reliable electricity BPU provides to Pfizer is essential in delivering lifesaving medications to our patients around the world. Once started, most all of our processes must finish without any interruption,” says Pfizer Engineering Operations Senior Manager Kyle Ratzlaff. “With the confidence we have in BPU, we are rarely concerned for our business continuity. For example, in February 2021, much of the area experienced interruptions to their utility services due to the abnormally low temperatures. BPU worked with Pfizer and there was not even a momentary interruption in service.”
For the Board, this recognition reinforces the peace of mind the company can offer customers while supporting substantial cost savings. As of 2023, the BPU supports 8,944 total electric customers, 1,538 of which represent commercial and industrial customers. For industrial users, electric rates fall 35% lower than the national average, saving companies millions per year at an average of five cents per kilowatt-hour.
Staying at the top is no simple task. But with prime industrial space readily available, proximity to an extensive talent pool and utility rates worth writing home about, McPherson is prepared to help companies reach new levels.
Location, Location, Location!
The county’s central location and positioning along Interstate 135 in Kansas was a powerful pull for manufacturers such as CertainTeed (Saint-Gobain), Johns Manville (Berkshire Hathaway), Westlake Pipe & Fittings, Pfizer and Viega during their site selection processes.
Plastics, energy, equipment manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and data centers are key industries for the region and for good reason. Operations for these industries can be energy-intensive as these companies seek to meet rising production demands. That’s a sizeable cost consideration when setting up shop in many U.S. states, so the 35% lower rates get noticed.
In addition to overall savings, for companies seeking renewable energy sources about 40% of the BPU’s energy supply comes from wind produced in the state and provided through partnership with Evergy.
“In recent years, the state of Kansas has had some major economic development wins says McPherson Industrial Development Company Executive Director Kasi Morales. “Kansas now shows how it can be a global economic player and overcome the negative ‘it’s just a flyover state’ rhetoric. This has significantly increased the number of mega projects considering Kansas. If these projects are part of an electric-intensive industry looking to be out of a major metropolitan area, McPherson will win every time.”
The McPherson Industrial Development Company currently has more than 75 acres of prime industrial sites located in the county. Paired with access to talent across 13 community colleges and four universities within 60 miles, it’s not hard to understand why leading manufacturers have chosen to invest and expand their presence in the middle of America’s breadbasket.
Interruption of any kind is a challenge McPherson BPU intends to … well … interrupt.
In June 2023, the McPherson BPU broke ground on a new $33 million water treatment plant. McPherson Mayor Thomas Brown says it’s a project the organization pursued “by not only thinking about what is good for McPherson today but also what McPherson will need tomorrow.” Known as the South Well Field Project, this infrastructure aims to address declines associated with the Equus Beds Aquifer, which has long served as the county’s water source.
“We take this to heart. It is the reason McPherson Board of Public Utilities was created,” says McPherson Industrial Development Company Director Kasi Morales. “We have continued on with that trend in making significant infrastructure upgrades over our 54 years of existence.”
Pfizer’s Kyle Ratzlaff notes that for Pfizer, “water is an essential component in Pfizer’s manufacturing of pharmaceuticals.” This investment serves as reminder to the company that BPU continues to embark on utility infrastructure upgrades with a goal of increasing its reliability.
Growth begets growth. As restrictions put in place by the state’s Division of Water Resources prevented additional water rights development due to impending declines, McPherson BPU and local stakeholders knew they needed to invest in a long-term solution. By 2024, years of planning will come to fruition as the county will introduce three new public water supply wells, about 20 miles of new water transmission piping and the water treatment facility.
“As finite resources become more finite, we have access to a new water supply with a superior recharge rate that should help us not only sustain what we have, but to grow at least over the next 50 years,” says Morales.
This Investment Profile was prepared under the auspices of the McPherson Industrial Development Company. For more information, contact Kasi Morales at firstname.lastname@example.org or 620-245-2521. On the web, go to www.mcphersonindustry.com.