Library filed under Transmission from Kansas
Kansas’ position as the nation’s top wind energy producer in terms of electricity generation adds pressure to expand transmission infrastructure to reduce in-state congestion and push power to urban centers to the east, a wind industry analyst said Monday.
More than 1,000 wind turbines and associated industries could spring up in western Kansas as a result of the Grain Belt Express. After years of setbacks, the project gained Missouri utility regulators’ approval late last month to proceed.
The Kansas Senate advanced a bill that blocks the Kansas Corporation Commission from spending any money to study how to comply with the new federal Clean Power Plan until the U.S. Supreme Court resolves a pending legal challenge. Sen. Rob Olson, R-Olathe, added that amendment onto a bill that calls for disbanding the Kansas Electric Transmission Authority, an agency that was established to coordinate construction of new transmission lines to move wind energy to urban markets.
A 750-mile interstate power line promises to deliver wind-generated electricity to Columbia at nearly half the price the city now pays. But the savings cannot be certain until the line is built and contracts are proposed.
The Grain Belt Express (GBE) "Clean Line" is a High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission line, approximately 750 miles long stretching from western Kansas eastward across Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. Electrical current carried through the lines will come from new wind turbine farms in Kansas.
"We have sacrificed everything for this land," said Jennifer Gatrel, 33, who, along with her husband, Jeff, farms a 430-acre cattle ranch in western Missouri. "We don't go on vacation. We don't go out to eat. Everything we have is tied up in this land. The idea that somebody can come in and take it from us is appalling and it goes against what it is to be an American."
Farming interests want to change the process for approving construction of direct current power lines in Kansas to give landowners more input.
The approval depends on the developer, Clean Line Energy, getting approvals from the Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana state utility commissions before starting construction in Kansas. The order also specified that construction must begin within five years, and that Clean Line can’t recover any of its costs from Kansas ratepayers.
But setting an attendance record for the center wasn't the purpose for the audience members, many of whom raised hands to express their opposition to Clean Line's efforts. The utility seeks to construct a 700-mile overhead, high-voltage direct current transmission line to send 3,500 megawatts of wind power from western Kansas to eastern states,
A plan for high-voltage power lines will drive farmers out of business - or provide rural counties with a needed source of revenue, depending on who you ask. The line, called the Grain Belt Express, would transmit about 3,500 megawatts of electricity along 600 kilovolt lines from wind farms in southwest Kansas east to Missouri, Illinois and Indiana, where it would join with other lines to carry the power farther east.
With the deck stacked in favor of building, he said, if systems aren't designed to keep costs down, ratepayers will suffer the most. "I'm not opposed to building transmission lines, but right now it's sort of the gold rush," Springe said. "I'd like to see a few more checks and balances, and actually building in the least-cost way for customers."
The regulatory decision follows the commission's recent approval of a $200 million high-voltage line that will hook into the V line at Medicine Lodge and run to Oklahoma. That line will help export wind energy to other states and is being built by Prairie Wind Transmission.
Developers there are lining up to build new wind farms, representing thousands of megawatts. Projects have been permitted and land has been leased, but work won't go forward without additional transmission ...the existing transmission grid lacked capacity to move Kansas wind power to eastern Missouri.
The Kansas Corporation Commission began hearing testimony on Monday from opponents and supporters of a proposal to move a wind energy power line from a route near Dodge City in order to protect the habitat of about 140 lesser prairie chickens. Supporters of the change said the proposed route would disrupt the habitat where the birds breed.
That's because general plans for the 345-kilovolt route, known as the V-Plan and including a connecting line into Oklahoma, appear to take the line through prime nesting and breeding habitat for the Lesser Prairie-Chicken in both states. With an estimated two-thirds of the unique bird's original habitat already eliminated by development, officials warn that further encroachment could place the bird on the nation's endangered species list.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday approved a plan to pay for the massive power line upgrades needed to boost wind farm construction in the region. The Southwest Power Pool, a regional cooperative of electrical utilities that includes Kansas, sought approval to spread the entire $1.1 billion cost for the larger lines across all of its 5 million customers in eight states.
No one voiced outright opposition to the construction of a 345,000-volt power line, but residents along the way raised several questions and concerns. More than 100 people turned out Monday night in Stockton for a two-phase public hearing into the second phase of a massive power line project stretching from Hays to the Nebraska border. The first half of the meeting was informal, while the second half took on a more court-like appearance, with speakers sworn in by a court reporter who took down everything that was said.
While it appeared briefly Monday that the lights were out on a proposed high-voltage electric transmission line that would serve the state's growing wind industry, officials recharged the plan Tuesday. The Southwest Power Pool Inc.'s board of directors on Tuesday included the $518 million "Spearville line" in a package of transmission expansion projects it was forwarding for further study and probable approval. The 765-kilovolt line would go from Spearville, the site of a wind farm in southwest Kansas, to Wichita and down to the Oklahoma border, where it could hook into lines to other states.
A project to put up a wind turbine at Hope Street Academy generated a civics lesson for students there, five of whom asked the city's governing body Tuesday evening to allow small wind energy systems to operate in Topeka for nonresidential purposes. The governing body, which includes the city council and Mayor Bill Bunten, subsequently voted 10-0 to approve an ordinance making that move and a companion measure requiring users of wind energy systems to acquire a conditional-use permit from the governing body.
Unlocking the potential of Kansas wind power will require federal legislation and more transmission lines, officials said Wednesday. Speaking to the Kansas Wind Working Group, Gov. Mark Parkinson said the state has succeeded in reaching approximately 1,000 megawatts of wind energy. But, he said, 2009 "has obviously been a much slower year."