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Archive for Sunday, May 10, 2009

Power line fight could be nearing agreement

May 10, 2009

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— Proposals from two groups seeking the right to build ultra high-voltage power lines in southern Kansas are to be considered in the week ahead for a possible agreement.

The project, estimated to be worth up to $800 million and up and running by 2013, would carry Kansas wind power to out-of-state markets. It has faced regulatory hurdles, including approval of a route and a decision on who will build it.

One proposal is from Prairie Wind Transmission LLC, and the other from ITC Great Plains.

Prairie Wind is a joint proposal of Westar Energy, American Electric Power and Warren Buffet’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. Its route would cover about 230 miles from near Dodge City to Wichita and from Medicine Lodge south to the Oklahoma border. Another high-voltage line would be used from that point under the plan.

ITC Great Plains is a Topeka-based subsidiary of a Michigan transmission company. It similarly would build a 180-mile line from Dodge City to Medicine Lodge and Wichita, dropping south into Comanche County, which borders Oklahoma.

Supporters of the two plans have been in negotiations, and details of a reported deal that would give each group a piece of the 765-kilovolt lines were still being worked out this week.

An agreement could be filed any day with the Kansas Corporation Commission.

“We’re getting much closer to resolving this,” ITC Great Plains spokeswoman Kimberly Gencur Svaty said.

Both Prairie Wind and ITC Great Plains would collect power from smaller lines and potentially supply 2 million homes with electricity.

Currently, wind energy delivery in Kansas involves various lower-voltage power lines that limit the number of new turbine farms. Most wind energy produced in Kansas is consumed in the immediate region.

Nearly 1,012 megawatts from wind turbines will be available by the end of this year. Western Kansas could get 7,000 megawatts by 2030.

The three cables of a 765-kilovolt power line can carry up to six times the electricity of the three smaller cables of a 345-kilovolt line, the largest now used in Kansas.

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