The History of Independence Light & Power
1893 the citizens of Independence voted by a 572 majority to
build a municipal light plant. This building was located where
Veterans Park is today. The flood of 1947 caused damage to the
plant so they decided to move to a better location. In 1948,
construction began on a new building at the present site. At
that time, the Mayor and City Council governed the Light Plant.
Those members were Mayor Charles Jones, Councilmen W.M. Armstrong,
L.A. Bastian, M.J. Carmody, Foster Miller, Ralph Farris, M.W.
Osburn and E.A. Plank. The Superintendent was Raymond E. Guernsey.
In 1961, the city voted to have the Light Plant governed by
a board of trustees. The following is a list of board members
and the years they served: Alvin Lynes 1961-1976, George Burk
1961-1982, Fred Ulm 1961-1977, Rudolph S. Leytze 1975-1995,
Carl Kruempel 1977-1994, Donald D. Brown 1982-1985, Burnell
Haven 1986-1991, William J. Hickey 1992-2009, Robert M. Cook
1994-Present, Edwin E. Armstead 1996-2001, Brian K. Meyer 2002-Present,
Ronald D. Pierce 2002-2003, Terry M. Toale 2002-2005, Steve
Elliott 2004-2009, Bryan R. Palmer 2006-Present, Cyndi S. Bergeson
2010-Present, Gerald C. Stelter 2010-Present.
During the construction of this building two new Superior
1000kw generators were installed. After these generators became operational
they moved two Worthington generators from the old plant. They were a 1935
500kw generator and a 1939 725kw generator. These units have
since been removed to make room for new Caterpillar generators.
As the city grew the demand for electricity also grew, so additional
generation had to be added. In 1957 a twenty-foot addition was
added to the west side of the building to make room for the
installation of a 2500kw Worthington generator. In 1964 another
addition was added to the west allowing space for two additional
generators. At this time, a 3200kw Worthington generator was
installed. In 1973, a 6250kw Worthington generator was installed.
Also at this time a new Control Room was added to the south
side of the building.
In 1975, the interconnection with Interstate Power Company was
installed. This meant that the plant went to a standby status
and power was purchased from Interstate Power Company. Power
was generated during times of high electrical usage and during
emergencies. Presently we are still in a standby status but
now we purchase power from Wisconsin Public Power Inc. We have
been purchasing power from WPPI since May of 2006.
In October of 1979, the Line Shop moved to their present location.
Prior to that it was located in the old plant at Veterans Park.
In 1987 we began to upgrade the electrical distribution system
from 2400 volts to 12,470 volts. This was done to increase the
capacity of the system and to improve service and reliability.
This upgrade was completed in January of 2002. In order to better
serve our customers, a drive-thru pay window was installed in
1992. Also at that time, the billing functions were moved from
City Hall to the plant.
Due to continued growth, the 1935-500kw Worthington generator
was removed in 1995 and in its place two 1860kw Caterpillar
generators were installed. In March of 1999, the 1939-725kw
Worthington generator was also removed to make room for additional
Caterpillar generators. In May of 2000, three 1860kw Caterpillar
generators came on line. In 2007, one of the Superior generators
was retired. Currently the total generating capacity of the
plant is 22,250kw.
In November of 1997, by a majority vote, the citizens of Independence
approved the formation of a telecommunications company. A new
administration building was built across the street from the
plant and in May of 2000 the office and management personnel
moved in. The vacated office area at the plant was remodeled
for the new telecommunications equipment. Cable TV became operational
in December of 2000, internet in May of 2001 and digital telephone
was launched in October of 2006.
In June of 2003, work began on the site of the west substation.
This substation was installed to handle the continued growth
west of the river and for redundancy. It can also be used to
serve the entire town if the east substation needs to be taken
out of service. We are continuing to stay abreast with our customers
needs and keeping a watchful eye to the future. Our goal is
the same as our founders, to deliver the lowest cost dependable
power to all citizens well into the future.