Westar Energy to build new transmission line

? As state officials bemoaned the lack of electric transmission lines, Westar Energy Inc. announced Tuesday its plan to build a new line that would cost between

$80 million and $100 million.

Westar, the largest electric utility in Kansas, filed a request with state regulators for permission to build a 345-kilovolt, high-capacity line from northwest of Wichita to the Hutchinson area and then to near Salina.

The line will alleviate congestion in the Kansas transmission system and allow Westar to use its power plants more efficiently, company officials said.

The Kansas Corporation Commission has four months to consider Westar’s request. If approved, Westar will start working with landowners to purchase easements.

The company said the line would take about two years to build.

In recent months, Westar has made several major moves.

Last month, it decided to postpone a decision on whether it would build a new coal-burning plant because of skyrocketing construction costs.

In August, it announced plans to build a $330 million natural-gas-fueled plant in Emporia that is set to be completed in mid-2008. The plant will be used to provide power during peak usage periods.