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Kansas Commission Grants Approval for Wolf Creek to Blackberry Transmission Line Route

June 2, 2023
NextEra Energy Transmission Southwest to construct and operate 83-mile transmission line in Southeast Kansas.

The Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) has approved a siting permit for the Wolf Creek to Blackberry 345 kV transmission line in Southeast Kansas. The line will span about 83 miles across Coffey, Anderson, Allen, Bourbon, and Crawford Counties. NextEra Energy Transmission Southwest (NEET Southwest) will construct and operate the line.

The permit was approved in a 2-1 vote, stating that NEET Southwest’s route selection method and proposed route are reasonable and compliant with all statutory requirements.

Previously, the Commission granted NEET Southwest a limited certificate of convenience and necessity as a transmission-only public utility. The project is expected to benefit customers by lowering energy costs, improving transmission efficiency, relieving congestion, and enhancing reliability.

In addition to approving the route, the Commission has granted NEET Southwest micro-siting authority. This allows minor adjustments to accommodate landowner preferences or address environmental concerns, with major changes requiring Commission approval. NEET Southwest must submit its permit, reclamation plans, and notify landowners along the route about electromagnetic field (EMF) study options.

Commission Chair Susan Duffy and Commissioner Andrew French voted in favor, while Commissioner Dwight Keen dissented. Keen raised concerns about parallel alignment with an existing Evergy line and the lack of reconsideration for double circuiting or other alternatives to reduce landowner impact along a quarter of the route.

The Wolf Creek to Blackberry project originated from the Southwest Power Pool (SPP). In 2019, SPP identified the line as necessary to enhance transmission capability and relieve congestion from western Kansas to load centers in the east.

The Commission’s order emphasizes the need for early state input in future projects and plans to conduct a general investigation into line siting principles. Findings will be shared with SPP to improve cooperation and expectations.

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