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    PSC to hold hearing on transmission line in Southwest Missouri


    September 27, 2022 - Andy Ostmeyer, The Joplin Globe, Mo.

     

      Sep. 27—A public hearing is scheduled this week for a transmission line that will be built through parts of Jasper and Barton counties in Southwest Missouri.

      NextEra Energy Transmission Southwest, based in Florida, wants permission from regulators in Kansas and Missouri to build a 94-mile, 345-kilovolt transmission line between the Wolf Creek substation in Coffee County, Kansas, and the Blackberry substation in Jasper County. The latter is owned by Associated Electric Cooperative, which is based in Springfield and provides power to 51 cooperatives in parts of Missouri, Oklahoma and Iowa.

      Eighty-five miles of the route will pass through five Kansas counties, including Bourbon and Crawford, before entering Missouri.

      The proposal has generated controversy in parts of Kansas, where the Kansas Corporation Commission recently granted the transmission company a certificate of convenience and necessity, allowing it do business in the state as a public utility, and with that came the power of eminent domain.

      However, the KCC has not approved a route.

      A number of Kansas landowners have objected during previous public hearings in that state to a large transmission lines crossing their property and affecting their ability to farm.

      Becky Walding, who leads all development projects for NextEra, told the Globe recently that the transmission line will consist of 125-foot concrete monopoles, and the company is working to make it "visually acceptable."

      The lines also require a 150-foot easement, meaning they have to be at least 150 feet away from homes and businesses, with Walding noting that repair crews also need access to them "in critical events."

      The cheapest and least intrusive route is a straight line from point to point, she said, adding: "It minimizes the impact to everybody."

      She also said the benefits are "pretty significant," including land payments to the farmers.

      Walding said the project has been identified by the regional Southwest Power Pool as an "economic" necessity project, in that there is power generation in Kansas that is bottled up because there is not adequate transmission capacity to take it to where the demand is.

      Although the line will originate at a substation near the Wolf Creek nuclear power plant just east of Burlington, Kansas, the transmission line will move electricity from various sources, including wind and coal, as well as nuclear.

      NEET Southwest was formed in 2014 to construct, own and operate transmission lines in the Southwest Power Pool region, which includes Kansas and Missouri.

      In granting the company utility status in Kansas, the KCC said that the "Commission finds that the Transmission Project will have a beneficial effect on customers by lowering overall energy costs, removing inefficiency, relieving transmission congestion and improving the reliability of the transmission system."

      According to a statement issued by the KCC in August, Justin Grady, KCC chief of revenue requirements, cost of service and finance, Kansas customers could see an increase of 4 to 5 cents per month to cover the cost of the line beginning in 2025, "but when the benefits of the project are considered, they should see a reduction of $4 to $7 for every dollar spent on the line over its 40-year operating life."

      The KCC also asked NextEra to evaluate the feasibility of "double circuiting" the line with an existing 25-mile Evergy 161-kV transmission line. A double circuit line has two independent circuits on the same structure eliminating the need for an additional easement and reduces structure costs.

      NEET Southwest is now seeking a certificate of convenience and necessity in Missouri, and in a filing with state regulators argues that the transmission line was identified by the Southwest Power Pool as a project that would relieve transmission congestion west to east.

      "The area has been the site of historic and projected congestion on the (extra-high voltage) system and has had unresolved transmission limits identified in multiple studies," NextEra stated in its Missouri filing, and that existing transmission lines are old, have high outage rates and have other limitations.

      To participate

      The Missouri PSC is holding a public hearing virtually at 6 p.m. Thursday. PSC staff begin with a question-and-answer session with public comment to follow.

      To attend by telephone, at the time of the hearing call toll-free 1-855-718-6621, listen to the prompt and enter the meeting number, 2455 291 0125, followed by #. If prompted for a password, enter 0234. To participate via WebEx, visit www. webex.com or download the Cisco WebEx Meetings application, using the access code 2455 291 0125 and the password 0234.

      People wanting to participate in the local public hearing are asked to register by sending their first and last name, phone number and email address to pscinfo@psc.mo.gov or by calling 1-800-392-4211 by 5 p.m. Wednesday.

      Anyone needing an accommodation to participate in the hearing, should contact the Missouri PSC prior to the hearing at one of the following numbers: Consumer Services Hotline 1-800-392-4211 (voice), TDD Hotline 1-800-829-7541, or Relay Missouri at 711.

      Comments may also be submitted to the commission in writing by mailing to the Missouri Public Service Commission, P.O. Box 360, Jefferson City, MO 65102, or electronically using the commission's electronic filing system at https://psc.mo.gov/General/Submit_Comments. When submitting comments, reference File No. EA-2022-0234.

      Walding said the plan is to have the project completed by 2025.

      "The benefits are pretty significant, and we are committed to working with landowners," she said. "We are committed to being (good) neighbors."

      ___

      (c)2022 The Joplin Globe (Joplin, Mo.)

      Visit The Joplin Globe (Joplin, Mo.) at www.joplinglobe.com

      Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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