Kansas City Power & Light Co. and Omaha Public Power District representatives seeking to gauge reaction to proposed construction of a high-voltage line over parts of eastern Nebraska and northwest Missouri met Wednesday with the Nodaway County Commission and other elected officials from across the region.
The session was essentially a warm-up for a series of meetings set for later this month during which the project's managers will introduce the plan to the general public and seek input from landowners.
One such meeting will take place in Maryville from 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 22, at the Northwest Technical School.
Known as the Midwest Transmission Project, the initiative calls for construction of a 345-kilovolt line between 160 and 190 miles long from southeastern Nebraska to KCP&L's existing Sibley (Mo.) substation in Jackson County. A kilovolt is equal to 1,000 volts of electricity.
As proposed, the project is to include a 345-kilovolt substation in Nodaway County south of Maryville. The Nebraska end of the line will be Omaha Public Power's Substation No. 3458 south of Nebraska City, Neb.
According to Bill Musgrave, who is managing media and governmental relations for the project, the $400 million effort should create between 60 and 70 construction jobs.
As for the exact route the line will follow, that is very much still under consideration.
Right now, the project area is defined as a "white map" embracing parts of Otoe, Nemaha and Richardson counties in Nebraska and Atchison, Holt, Nodaway, Andrew, Gentry, Harrison, DeKalb, Daviess, Clinton, Caldwell, Clay, Ray and Jackson counties in Missouri.
During the upcoming public meetings, landowners will be able to call up aerial photo-maps of their property and tell utility representatives about structures or environmental features that might cause problems should the line be routed through their property.
Using such input, project technicians plan to plot "hundreds if not thousands of route segments," according to Project Manager Brent Davis of KCP&L. Those segments will then be considered at a second series of public meetings next winter.
A third round of meetings will propose a handful of suggested routes prior to a final selection next summer. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2015 with a projected in-service date of June 1, 2017.
In Missouri, utility rights-of-way will be through easements obtained with one-time payments to landowners. Davis said the partnership will make every effort to negotiate settlements that are mutually satisfactory.
"We have the power of eminent domain," he said, "but we don't like using it."
Davis said, the route will generally avoid rights-of-way containing existing lines.
Dual-location, he said, cuts redundancy and increases the odds for an outage in the event of an ice storm, tornado and other calamities.
Cost of constructing the line will ultimately be paid by tariffs spread across utility companies in the Southwest Power Pool, which embraces electricity Kansas and Oklahoma as well as portions of New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Nebraska.
Page 2 of 2 - Davis said increased capacity and other efficiencies associated with the new line mean that the eventual benefit should outweigh initial costs to consumers.
In a letter to the Nodaway County Commission, KCP&L and OPPD stated that the high-voltage line is needed to "better integrate SPP's east and west regions, improving SPP members' ability to deliver power to customers and facilitating the addition of new renewable and non-renewable generation to the electric grid."
In northwest Missouri, the term "renewable energy" is usually understood to mean wind turbines. However, natural gas, hydroelectric facilities and nuclear plants are part of the production mix for both utilities, which depend primarily on coal.