This has been an eventful year for Kansas energy policy. While a national debate about our energy policy unfolds, we Kansans have already seen these dynamics at work in our state. One theme that has emerged at the state and federal level is the critical need for an updated transmission grid to facilitate continued investment in renewable resources, and to extract more power from existing resources through better energy efficiency.
As part of the nation's largest independent transmission company, ITC Great Plains is working hard to develop policies that will facilitate a stronger, more robust electric transmission grid, and we want to take this opportunity to brief you on two projects that will advance the energy goals of Kansas.
This 210-mile transmission line will be constructed at 345kV and stretches from Spearville, Kan., to Axtell, Neb. This project passed several critical milestones thus far in 2009. After conducting public meetings with landowners in Spearville and La Crosse we submitted a preferred route to the Kansas Corporation Commission in March for the first phase of the line which goes from Spearville to Hays. The KCC held a public meeting in La Crosse to solicit public feedback on the KETA Project. The KCC held a second hearing in La Crosse before they issued an order on ITC's siting application in July.
The KCC approved ITC's siting application for the first phase of the project — a 90-mile segment running from Spearville to just outside of Hays. Assuming we receive necessary regulatory approvals in a timely matter, phase one of the KETA Project should be operational by 2012. Phase two of the line spans from Hays to Axtell. We are working with our partners in Nebraska to advance the second portion of the line in a timely manner as well.
This project also was approved by the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) for a "postage stamp" cost allocation, meaning the cost of the project will be spread across all ratepayers in the eight-state SPP region rather than on a more limited customer base. This was an important step for ITC to advance the project.
At the beginning of June we finalized a Settlement Agreement with Prairie Wind Transmission, LLC to build the Kansas V-Plan — the highly publicized, new 765 kV transmission line. This agreement represents an innovative way to invest in high-voltage transmission lines.
The V-Plan will be constructed by both ITC Great Plains and Prairie Wind. ITC will build the segment from Spearville to Comanche County and on to Medicine Lodge. At Medicine Lodge, Prairie Wind will construct a new substation and then take the 765kV line into a substation in Wichita. ITC will also build a 765kV substation in Comanche County.
There are several regulatory steps which must be achieved:
The Settlement Agreement between ITC and Prairie Wind must be reviewed and approved by the KCC. This could occur by fall 2009.
Both parties will continue working with Southwest Power Pool to get the KS V-Plan included in their transmission expansion plan at the 765kV level.
The parties will work to secure "postage stamp" cost allocation for the project as well.
After those steps are achieved, a series of regulatory proceedings will occur before the KCC including a siting application. The V-Plan could be operational by 2013 if planning and regulatory approval of the above steps continues at a reasonable rate.
CARL A. HUSLIG,
Huslig is president of ITC Great Plains of Topeka.