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Westar proposes increasing size of 161-kV line to ease Kansas City-area congestion

Kansas regulators held a hearing Sept. 22 on a proposal byWestar Energy Inc. toreplace a 161-kV line with a larger, 345-kV line which would reduce congestionand improve reliability in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

Westar in August proposed to the Kansas CorporationCommission that it be allowed to upgrade the 161-kV line between Westar'sStranger Creek substation and an interface point at the Kansas-Missouri borderwith Kansas City Power &Light Co.'s portion of the line, which continues on to the Iatanpower plant.

The Westar segment is about 11.8 miles long, and upgradingit will cost about $28 million, according to the company's application for asiting permit. It is expected to be in service by the end of 2018.

A KCP&L representative confirmed that the company wouldupgrade its portion of the line, about 6.4 miles, as well to 345 kV. KCP&Lis a utility subsidiary of GreatPlains Energy Inc., which has proposed acquiring Westar.

The need for the project was identified in the 's 2015Integrated Transmission Plan. SPP's director of transmission planning, AntoineLucas, submitted testimony to the KCC Sept. 16, explaining that upgrading the161-kV line to 345 kV would mitigate the risk of outage to a parallel Iatan-StrangerCreek line already at 345 kV as well as mitigate congestion on theextra-high-voltage loop around Kansas City under other conditions.

In separate testimony, Westar's vice president oftransmission, Kelly Harrison, said: "Under certain conditions, the existing161-kV transmission line is creating a restriction in the transmission system.This condition limits the ability to move less expensive electric power fromareas north of [the] Iatan Generating Station to areas toward the south andeast of [the] Stranger Creek Substation. Along with providing a remedy for thisissue, the new line will contribute to a stronger, more robust transmissiongrid, with Kansas and the entire region benefiting from increased access tolower power costs and also increased reliability."

Because the line was approved by SPP, its cost will berecovered from across the grid operator's region. (Docket No. 17-WSEE-063-STG)