Evergy making plans to build $8.5M energy substation in central Lawrence; project will need city approvals

photo by: Evergy Energy

A map from Evergy Energy shows the proposed location of a new substation.

The Evergy energy company is planning to build an $8.5 million substation in central Lawrence that it says will improve electricity service in the community and strengthen the regional power grid.

Evergy purchased land near Kasold Drive and Bob Billings Parkway, near the University of Kansas’ west campus, for the construction of the new substation, according to an Evergy news release. The new substation will replace an existing substation in the same area, but be significantly bigger, helping to improve service, according to an Evergy spokesperson.

“These infrastructure upgrades will strengthen electric reliability of the community and the university, as well as strengthen the power grid,” Evergy Communications Manager Kaley Bohlen told the Journal-World.

Regarding why Evergy cannot continue to use the existing substation, which is near the intersection of West 19th Street and Meadowlark Lane, Bohlen said there is not enough space at the existing site to expand the substation with the necessary upgrades. She said the current site is approximately 13,500 square feet while the new site will be approximately 70,000 square feet, or approximately five times larger, allowing space for future equipment upgrades.

Google Maps

Like the current substation in that area, the proposed site is north of the residential area that is northeast of the intersection of Kasold Drive and Clinton Parkway, according to a map included in the news release. However, Bohlen said that unlike the current location, the new substation will not require traffic to pass through the residential areas to access the site for maintenance. Specifically, plans included in the news release call for an access road to built at the southern end of Westbrooke Drive.

In relation to any sound or light from the site, Bohlen noted that plans call for a stone wall to be built around the substation. She said substation transformers emit a hum, but the stone wall will help buffer the sound. She said the hum heard through the wall could be compared to the sound of a fluorescent tube light fixture.

When it comes to lighting on the new substation site, Bohlen said security lighting will be installed but will normally be turned off. She said if there should be a need for maintenance work after dark, which she said is a very rare occurrence, the lights would be turned on during those activities.

The release states that as plans for the substation are developed, Evergy will continue to work with nearby landowners, neighbors and community members to provide project information, answer questions and address concerns.

The proposed site for the new substation is on land currently zoned as part of KU’s university district, according to Planning Director Jeff Crick. Crick said that Evergy has not submitted any applications yet, but the planning office would anticipate a rezoning, platting, and special use permit applications would need to be approved before construction of a substation could begin. He said under the city’s Land Development Code, the rezoning and special use permit processes require public hearings at the Planning Commission and City Commission before the applications could be approved.

In the coming weeks, Evergy employees and contractors will perform survey work to gather information for the design of the substation and its connection to the current power grid, according to the news release. The release states the project will be presented to local leaders as part of the permitting process in the coming months, and that construction is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2021 and be completed by the fall of 2023.


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