For more information contact: Linda Berry, KCC Director of Public Affairs (785) 271-3269
February 22, 2023
KCC schedules two public hearings on transmission line siting application
TOPEKA - The Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) has scheduled two public hearings to give Kansas residents an opportunity to learn more about and make comments on an electric transmission line siting application filed by NextEra Energy.
NextEra Energy is requesting permission to site a 94-mile, 345 kV electric transmission line connecting the Wolf Creek Substation in Coffey County to the Blackberry Substation in Jasper County, Missouri, less than one mile over the state line. If the proposed route is approved, the line will pass through five Kansas counties: Coffey, Anderson, Allen, Bourbon and Crawford.
The first public hearing will be held on March 1 at Iola High School, 300 E. Jackson Street, Iola, KS. KCC and NextEra staff will be on hand to answer landowner questions beginning at 3 p.m. The public hearing will begin at 6 p.m. This hearing does not have a virtual option for remote participation such as asking a question or making a comment, but will be broadcast live for viewing on the Kansas Corporation Commission’s YouTube Channel.
The second public hearing will be held on March 2 at the Girard Public Library, 128 W. Prairie Avenue, Girard, KS. Attendees may participate in person or virtually via Zoom. Anyone opting to participate virtually using ZOOM must register at https://kcc.ks.gov/your-opinion-matters by 5 p.m. on March 1. KCC and NextEra staff will be onsite to answer questions beginning at 3 p.m. The public hearing will begin at 6 p.m. KCC Commissioners will participate in the Girard public hearing virtually. The hearing will be broadcast live on the agency’s YouTube channel for those unable to attend.
In addition to the public input opportunities provided with the two hearings, written public comments on the application will be accepted through 5 p.m. CST, March 9, 2023. Comments may be submitted online, in a letter, or by phone. Details can be found at https://kcc.ks.gov/your-opinion-matters.
The Commission, by law, will issue an order on the siting application on or before May 24, 2023. The order could approve or disapprove the proposed route, alter the route, or provide conditions for the granting of the line siting application that the Commission determines is just and reasonable and best protects the rights of all interested parties and those of the general public. If the route is approved, NextEra will have the authority to move forward with the project.
The Wolf Creek to Blackberry transmission line construction project was identified by the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) as a necessary economic project to increase the transmission capability and relieve congestion from western Kansas east to load centers within the SPP region. The SPP is a regional transmission organization (RTO) mandated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to ensure reliable supplies of power, adequate transmission infrastructure, and competitive wholesale prices on behalf of its members. The SPP serves 17 states, including Kansas. The project was competitively bid by the Southwest Power Pool and NextEra Energy won the right to construct the line.
Congestion results in an overabundance of energy at particular locations, which limits the ability of lower priced energy to flow freely through the system. When that happens, customers could end up paying higher energy costs. Reducing congestion on the system is the largest driver of cost reductions associated with building new transmission.
On August 29, 2022, the KCC granted a certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) to NextEra Energy Transmission Southwest, LLC, enabling the company to do business as a transmission only public utility in the State. In issuing the order, The Commission found the project provides benefits for Kansans:
“Based on the testimony received, 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.”
The Commission considered arguments that the primary purpose of the line was to send nuclear power to Missouri, or to export wind outside of the SPP footprint, and it found those arguments were not supported. The evidence in the record indicated that the purpose of the line is to alleviate congestion and improve reliability in Kansas, and within SPP. The purpose of the line is not to deliver Kansas nuclear power to Missouri. All of Wolf Creek’s nuclear power will continue to be delivered to SPP, with the rights to Wolf Creek power continuing to be owned by Evergy, Inc. (a utility serving both Kansas and Missouri customers) and Kansas Electric Power Cooperative, Inc. (a wholesale generation and transmission cooperative serving distribution cooperatives throughout Kansas).
Justin Grady, KCC Chief of Revenue Requirements, Cost of Service and Finance, addressed misconceptions about the financing in his testimony, saying the cost of the line will be allocated equitably across the entire 17 state SPP region based on transmission customer load share. Kansas will pay 16.5% of the cost. Grady testified that Kansas customers could see an increase of $0.04 to $0.05 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.