Topeka, Kan., June 29, 2011 — The Kansas Corporation Commission approved the transmission line route as filed by Prairie Wind Transmission with modifications based on proposals by some landowners along and near the route.
Prairie Wind proposed its route to the KCC after extensive consultation with landowners, state and federal environmental and wildlife agencies and environmental groups. The KCC approved a route that incorporated the best suggestions proposed by area landowners, some of which lower the estimated cost of the project.
The 110-mile double-circuit 345 kV high-capacity transmission line, part of the project commonly referred to as the Y-plan, will begin near Colwich connecting to Medicine Lodge and then continuing south to the Kansas-Oklahoma border.
The approved route, as recommended by Prairie Wind, avoids the Red Hills with its ecosystem inhabited by sensitive species, including the lesser prairie chicken and a number of bat species.
Early in the planning stages Prairie Wind briefly considered a route through the Red Hills but soon rejected it due to concerns expressed by environmental groups, state and federal wildlife agencies, and landowners about potential adverse impact on sensitive species and substantial additional costs for environmental remediation.
Beginning last year, Prairie Wind commissioned an engineering study and conducted a series of public meetings to establish the best route for the line. Public feedback received through surveys and at the meetings was a key piece in determining the route submitted to the KCC for consideration.
Prairie Wind will begin working with landowners along the route this summer and fall to obtain rights of way. Construction will begin mid-2012. The line is scheduled to be in service by the end of 2014.
The project will provide economic benefits to communities along the route through good paying jobs for craftspeople needed for construction, increased sales tax revenue associated with materials and services used to construct the line and payments to landowners for right-of-way easements. This improvement to the regional transmission system will create economic development opportunities.
The preliminary estimate for the Prairie Wind line is about $225 million before adjusting for changes adopted by the KCC in its approval. The project benefits the regional transmission system so the costs will be shared among customers throughout the nine states included in the Southwest Power Pool.
Kansas electric customers are expected to incur an initial cost increase of about 25 cents per month for an average residential customer using 1,000 kWh per month. The amount will decrease over time.
Prairie Wind Transmission is a joint venture between Westar Energy and Electric Transmission America, which is joint venture between subsidiaries of American Electric Power and MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co.