Posted on Mon, Jun. 01, 2009 10:15 PM
Two competing companies have reached a deal to share the building of high-voltage power lines from Wichita to Dodge City, Kan.
Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson said Monday that the settlement cleared the way for the project, worth up to $800 million, to proceed.
The 765,000-volt lines, which will use cable bundles as thick as pickup tires, will bind the ever-more-productive wind fields of Kansas to outside markets. The companies, Prairie Wind Transmission LLC and ITC Great Plains, each will get some of the work, which could have the lines up and running by 2013. Prairie Wind is a joint proposal of Westar Energy, American Electric Power and Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. ITC Great Plains is a Topeka-based subsidiary of a Michigan transmission company, not related to Kansas City Power & Light parent Great Plains Energy.
Today, delivery of wind energy is cobbled together with various lower-voltage power lines that limit the number of new turbine farms in a state seen as the nation’s third-best wind location.
Currently, most wind energy produced in Kansas is consumed in the immediate region, but as production increases, the southern and southeastern United States increasingly are viewed as the potential markets.
Nearly 1,012 megawatts from wind turbines will be available by the end of 2009, but 7,000 megawatts are proposed for western Kansas by 2030.
Kansans would not pay for all of the 765,000-volt line, since it would help improve the grid and utilities in other states can benefit. But how that cost is divided will be important for Kansas consumers, who would pick up at least part of the bill.
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