The grassroots citizen group Indy Energy will host its eighth community forum Saturday at the Independence Utilities Center. The free forum from 10 to 11:30 a.m. is open to the public, and it will include a tour of the new Utilities Center building at 17221 E. 23rd St.

The new facility had been a physician building at the Medical Center of Independence. The city purchased the building, had it renovated and dedicated late last year following the demolition of the hospital next door. It has received platinum rating – the highest possible for its energy efficiency.

“Kudos to the City Council for having the vision to purchase the building and fix it,” Indy Energy member Jason White said. “It's really quite remarkable. It takes a few years, but you get a payback.

“It's a neat opportunity to engage in something the city has been exemplary with in the metro area. IPL has been wonderful about this, and they're excited to have some people come see it.”

Indy Energy member Brent Schondelmeyer said public libraries have been great venues for the previous forums, but Saturday's forum has an ideal setting because the building is unique in itself and has a large meeting room.

“It's a one-of-a-kind building in our area, a model building that shows different ways to produce power,” he said.

Staff members of Independence Power & Light have assisted in organizing the forum and will help provide updates on several electric utility issues, including the community solar farm, decommissioning the Missouri City power plant, the automatic meter reading program and the city's new utility billing system.

White said he believes the city's rate structure likely will continue to be a hot-button issue. Many people believe the rates should be lower and that residential usage accounts for a higher percentage than many utilities prefer.

“It's very difficult to get to, because we don't have as much in the way of industry,” White said.