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Archive for Friday, October 30, 2009

Holding the line

October 30, 2009

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Kansans should appreciate the efforts of Gov. Mark Parkinson to keep plans for a major electrical transmission line on track.

One of Parkinson’s first successes after taking over as governor earlier this year was to barter a settlement between two companies who were competing to build a 765-kilovolt electrical transmission line across southern Kansas. The two companies agreed to share the project with ITC Great Plains building the line from Spearville through Comanche County to Medicine Lodge and Westar building the line from Wichita to Medicine Lodge and down to the Oklahoma border, where it will can tie into other high-voltage lines.

The transmission line is a critical part of the state’s ability to expand its wind power generation network. It does no good to expand wind generation if that electricity can’t be moved to the areas where it is needed. That’s why Parkinson and others were concerned when the Southwest Power Pool, which oversees a regional power transmission grid, didn’t include the so-called “V-Plan” on its priority list. Not having the support of the SPP network would have been a serious disadvantage, perhaps even a deal-breaker, for the Kansas line.

Realizing that, Parkinson pleaded the state’s case with the SPP board of directors. When that board met Tuesday, the Kansas V-plan was added to the group’s list of priority projects.

In a speech this week, Parkinson said the high-voltage transmission line is as important to the Kansas economy as the proposed federal biosecurity lab in Manhattan or the designation of a National Cancer Center at the Kansas University Medical Center. Kansas has made enormous progress in recent months in developing its wind power potential and attracting the business and industry that will support that endeavor.

The governor’s recent efforts are a reminder that economic development efforts in the state are a marathon, not a sprint. Moving the state forward requires constant attention to any details that can potentially push a project off-track. Congratulations to Parkinson for keeping this project moving forward.

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