T&D World Magazine

Cyril Welter: Transmission Line Planner

Transmission routing planners often face blind opposition when they are trying to do their jobs, and Cyril Welter, associate planner with Burns & McDonnell in Kansas City, Missouri, said that is the worst thing about his job. He has been at Burns & McDonnell for 27 years and is currently a senior project manager in the Environmental Studies & Permitting Division of the company.

Welter will address the opposition problem along with the basics of transmission line routing, from data collection to route selection, in the transmission routing class at T&D University this October. He has been doing the company’s transmission line workshop since 1990 and has also assisted with its transmission line symposium for the last two years.

Welter’s experience has included preparing environmental studies for electric generation and transmission projects. He has directed projects from Virginia to California and has been involved in the siting of power plants, substations, and transmission lines. He has worked with lines from 69 kV up to 500 kV, as well as controversial lines in urban areas.
He has assisted numerous clients with establishing public involvement programs for transmission line projects and power plants, including the use of Community Advisory Committees and Agency Workshops.

His company, Burns & McDonnell, has been doing transmission line routing and power plant siting since the passage of the National Environmental Policy Act. It has worked with all types of clients from municipalities to co-ops to investor-owned. Its experience is nationwide and at all voltages, from short urban projects to major interstate projects several hundred miles in length. Burns & McDonnell provides the complete range of services from system planning, environmental studies, route selection, public involvement, permitting, design, and program management.

Welter got into siting by doing socioeconomic studies for power plants and transmission lines as part of environmental impact studies, which then led him to primarily doing transmission line studies.

“The most important thing I have learned is to be flexible in finding an acceptable route for a proposed line,” Welter said. “Many issues may drive the line in different directions.”

He stresses the critical nature of transmission line routing in his workshops. “Transmission line routing is important to the industry because it is necessary to get lines approved to deliver power to the customer. Understanding the methods for routing is useful not only for the people who will be directly involved in the activity, but also for others who may be indirectly involved,” Welter said. “We have heard many times that it gives these others an appreciation of what it takes to identify, select, and gain approval of a transmission line.”

He likes working as a team to get a project completed, which is no small task. He has always worked from Kansas City, Missouri, which is a good, central location for his favorite activities: going to national parks and canoeing in Northern Minnesota.

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