83-mile Wolf Creek transmission line approved, set to span 5 counties

Published: May. 24, 2023 at 11:55 AM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - An 83-mile transmission line starting at Wolf Creek and set to span 5 Kansas counties has been approved by the Kansas Corporation Commission.

On Wednesday morning, May 24, the Kansas Corporation Commission approved a siting permit to establish the route for the Wolf Creek to Blackberry transmission line in SE Kansas. About 83 miles of this line will be in the Sunflower State - specifically Coffey, Anderson, Allen, Bourbon and Crawford counties.

The Commission noted that NextEra Energy Transmission Southwest will build and operate the newly approved line. The order was approved with a 2-1 vote.

“The Commission finds that the method that NEET Southwest used to select its route and the route proposed by NEET Southwest are reasonable and that the siting permit requested by NEET Southwest complies with all statutory requirements and should be granted,” Commissioners said.

In August, the Commission said it granted NEET Southwest a limited certificate of convenience and necessity as a transmission-only public utility. After it was decided that the project would benefit customers as it lowered energy costs, removed inefficiency, relieved transmission congestion and improved reliability.

Additionally, the KCC said it granted NEED Southwest micro-siting authority. This allows the transmission owner to make small modifications to the route and placement of infrastructure to accommodate preferences or avoid environmental concerns. However, material, major changes and any adjustment that landowners would not have received notice for would be required to be approved by the Commission before it goes into effect.

Also, the Commission said the company is required to show evidence that it has notified all landowners along the route of their ability to request any electromagnetic field study after the line is finished.

Officials noted that Commission Chair Susan Duffy and Commissioner Andrew French both voted to approve the siting permit as Commissioner Dwight Keen voted against it. In Keen’s filed dissent he cited concerns that the line is located parallel to an existing Evergy line and to not remand the matter to SPP for reconsideration of double circuiting the lines on shared poles and right of ways or for other options to lower impact for 22.5 miles - about a quarter of the route.

The Commission indicated that double circuiting was evaluated, however, not pursued as it would have increased costs, delay the project and create a difference in construction methods between two companies.

The KCC said the Wolf Creek to Blackberry project started in the Southwest Power Pool - a Regional Transmission Organization overseen by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to ensure the supply of power is reliable as well as relieve congestion in transmission from western Kansas to the eastern SPP load centers.

Officials said the order noted a need for SPP to provide an avenue for state input and involvement early in the design process on projects in the future and the Commission’s intent to open a general investigation into principles and priorities used in future line siting proceedings.

The Commission noted that SPP will be made aware of both its concerns and the results of the general investigation in order to work together better.

To read the full order and dissent, click HERE.