Archive for Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Key Kansas legislators want electric transmission lines built immediately

January 20, 2009


— Key legislators on Tuesday said they want electric transmission lines built in Kansas. Now.

The House Energy and Utilities Committee considered several bills aimed at accelerating decisions on transmission lines, and granting a state authority the ability to charge ratepayers to build its own lines.

“We’re fighting with other states to get transmission,” said committee chairman Rep. Carl Holmes, R-Liberal.

He said Oklahoma was moving faster in getting lines built, which would take away from building lines in Kansas that are needed to spur more wind energy development.

“Oklahoma is just going to run us over,” he said.

The main dispute is over the proposed construction in southern Kansas of the region’s highest voltage line.

Two companies are vying for the job, which would cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Those companies are ITC Great Plains, a Topeka-based subsidiary of a Michigan transmission company, and Prairie Wind Transmission, which is a partnership led by Westar Energy, the largest electric utility in Kansas.

The Kansas Corporation Commission, which regulates utilities, has yet to pick a builder, but has urged both companies to reach a compromise within a year.

Some lawmakers, however, have grown impatient with the KCC.

House Bill 2012 would reduce from 120 days to 90 days the amount of time an appellate court would have to decide appeals from the KCC involving electric utility cases.

House Bill 2014 would grant the Kansas Electric Transmission Authority the power to charge fees on ratepayers if the authority builds its own transmission lines.

And House Bill 2017 would set a 240-day limit on some of the cases before the KCC.

“It is very much helpful to have identified timelines in which you can plan to go through a legal process,” Kimberly Gencur Svaty, a spokeswoman for ITC Great Plains, told the committee.

But the judiciary and KCC opposed the tighter deadlines.

Kansas Court of Appeals Chief Judge Gary Rulon spoke against HB 2012.

“It would reduce by 25 percent the time our court has to process the most complex and voluminous litigation that will come to our court,” Rulon said.

To show how complicated the electric cases are, Rulon brought a photograph of a rate case that showed stacks of legal briefs on top of a table. He said the outcomes of rate cases affect many Kansans and shouldn’t be hurried more than they already are.

Martha Coffman, an advisory counsel to the KCC, said the proposal was “unwarranted and can only result in less thorough review by the court on appeals.”

Don Low, director of the KCC’s utilities division, opposed setting the 240-day time limit on certain cases before the commission, saying the proposal would in some instances diminish “the commission’s ability to protect the public interest.”

The committee took no immediate action on the bills.


gccs14r 9 years, 5 months ago

What's wrong with the transmission companies paying for their own long-haul lines?

OnlyLawrenceRepublican 9 years, 5 months ago

Carl Dean is compromising substance in favor of form.

akuna 9 years, 5 months ago

Build 'em and build 'em now.A better transmission line infrastructure will allow for more green energy to be built. If we want to compete with the surrounding states for electricity and industry we need to be able to get the electricity from rural areas to cities.If we do build a more transmission lines, it should be future proof. Future power generation and distribution needs to be able to adapt to irregularities in production due to sporatic solar and wind generation.All this ties into what is being termed the Smart Grid, The Federal Government is going to be pumping serious money into this project. Our state congress needs to be ready with a comprehensive plan for generation and distribution of electricity on the state level. The better prepared we are, the faster we will get Federal monies to pay for the investment, the better the Kansas economy will be.Let's pass some legislation to prove to the US Congress that an investment in Kansas will go a long way toward energy independence in a short time.

Sigmund 9 years, 5 months ago

Cheap reliable solar and wind power, good luck with that!

Sigmund 9 years, 5 months ago

beobachter (Anonymous) says… "Wonder why most Kansans don't want them because of their negative environmental effects."Do you a link to a recent survey? I'd like to see that.

Danimal 9 years, 5 months ago

Hey I want the SLT to be built immediately, but I guess we can't all have what we want right? Especially when you live in a horribly governed state like Kansas.

mcontrary 9 years, 4 months ago

Kansas isn't the back seat of the country because of Douglas or Johnson Counties. It's the idiots pushing for coal plants and other dead-end projects rather than forward-looking ones that puts Kansas at the back-end (whatever euphamism you use for it) of things. If it smacks of science or progress, the legislature is against it. You can't blame the governor for the legislature.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.