FREE STATE SUBSTATION PROJECT

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Evergy is preparing to construct a new substation near Kasold Drive and Bob Billings Pkwy in Lawrence, Kansas. The improvements will increase electric reliability and strengthen the regional power grid, allowing us to serve area homes and businesses well into the future. This new, modern substation’s proximity to the university will not only provide enhanced electric reliability for the community but can also make research and educational opportunities possible for faculty and students for years to come.

What to expect

  • The substation will be surrounded by a nine to ten-foot-tall stonecast wall and feature security lighting that can be turned on and off as needed. The four steel poles within the substation will be approximately 65 feet tall.
  • We will build a short section of transmission line to connect the new substation to the power grid.
  • The existing transmission line south of the substation will be reduced in height by approximately 20 to 35 feet, leaving the existing distribution line in place.
  • A temporary access road will be built for construction purposes and removed once the substation is operational.
  • A permanent access road will be built from Bob Billings Parkway and Westbrooke to the substation to avoid traffic through neighboring residential areas when maintenance is needed.
  • Once the new substation is operational, the existing substation near KU's campus at West 19th St. and Meadowlark Ln. (which requires traffic through residential areas for maintenance) will be removed.

Project map 

Timeline

 

This project is part of Evergy’s long-range plan to upgrade the transmission grid in eastern Kansas and increase electric reliability in Lawerence.

Real Estate

We are committed to transparent and timely communications with landowners. We contacted landowners who have property on the transmission line route and purchased the easements necessary to build the line. We also discussed what to expect from our construction efforts and restoration practices. Our intent is to leave property in a state comparable to pre-construction.

Health and Environment

Evergy believes the environment is an important factor when planning and designing transmission line projects. We work closely with the appropriate organizations from the beginning of projects to make sure any direct environmental impact is appropriately identified and addressed.

What is the Free State project?
Evergy is preparing to construct a new substation near Kasold Drive and Bob Billings Parkway in Lawrence, Kansas. Additionally, we will build a short section of transmission line to connect the substation to the power grid. Once the new substation is operational, the existing substation near KU’s campus at West 19th Street and Meadowlark Lane, which requires traffic through residential areas for maintenance, will be removed.

Why is this project needed?
The improvements will increase electric reliability and strengthen the regional power grid, allowing us to serve area homes and businesses well into the future. This new, modern substation’s proximity to the university will not only provide enhanced electric reliability for the community but can also make research and educational opportunities possible for faculty and students for years to come.

Who will benefit from the project?
This project will benefit residents and businesses in Lawrence, eastern Kansas and beyond by strengthening the regional power grid and improving reliability. It also will provide tax revenue, construction jobs, local expenditures and will expand capabilities for future investment in area industry.

Who is responsible for this project?
Evergy will construct and own the new substation and transmission line. The Southwest Power Pool (SPP) operates the transmission system in the region for this transmission line. SPP will direct Evergy to operate the new transmission line.

When will the project be built?
The project is scheduled to be complete and in-service by Fall 2023. We are forecasting construction work to begin in Fall 2021.

What will the substation look like?
The substation will be surrounded by a nine to ten-foot-tall stonecast wall and feature security lighting that can be turned on and off as needed. The poles within the substation will be steel and an average of 65 feet tall. Substation transformers emit some noise, but the stone wall will help buffer sound.

How will the substation be accessed?
A temporary access road will be built for construction purposes and removed once the substation is operational. A permanent access road will be built from Bob Billings Parkway and Westbrooke to the substation to avoid traffic through neighboring residential areas when maintenance is needed.

Who will maintain the substation?
Evergy will maintain the new substation, including landscaping directly outside the stone wall. We will perform preventative maintenance at the substation once a month during normal business hours and will access the substation for equipment upgrades or unplanned maintenance as needed.

How will I know it is authorized personnel at the substation?
Evergy employees utilize personal protection equipment, including hard hats, safety vests and safety glasses, when working in or around substations. All Evergy employees carry company identification. Most employees performing maintenance will be in marked Evergy vehicles. If you notice suspicious activity at the substation, please contact local law enforcement immediately.

What will the transmission line look like?
A short section of transmission line will be built from the substation to connect to the existing transmission line on Kasold Drive. The poles will be steel and an average of 70 feet tall. The existing transmission line south of the substation will be reduced in height by an average of 20 to 35 feet, leaving the existing distribution line in place.

Potential routes for the transmission line were developed with the intent to minimize adverse impacts to residents, their land and the natural environment, while providing a technically viable and cost-effective route. We consider the impact on trees and vegetation when routing and designing our infrastructure, but regardless of which route was chosen for this build, some trees and vegetation in the area would be trimmed or removed.

Who will build the substation and manage the construction?
Evergy will design and construct the transmission line using both Evergy resources and subcontractors depending on the task. Evergy will provide project management services and coordination during construction of the project.

How much will the project cost?
Since the project isn’t complete, final costs haven’t been determined, but the initial estimated investment for the substation and transmission line is approximately $8.5 million. Because the project will entirely benefit Evergy customers, costs will be reflected in customer rates.

What environmental impacts were considered with the siting of the project?
Evergy believes the environment is an important factor when planning and designing projects. We work closely with the appropriate organizations from the beginning of projects to make sure any direct environmental impact is appropriately identified and addressed. Through the Kansas Department of Agriculture, Division of Water Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, we work with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, Kansas Historical Society, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Nature Conservancy. We believe this kind of collaboration leads to developing a project that aligns with federal and state energy and environmental policy objectives. We adhere to all state and federal regulations to protect native plants, threatened or endangered species, wetlands and water and air quality.

Regulatory and Government Policy

Which regulatory bodies will have to approve the project?
The Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) is the regulatory body with oversight regarding the siting of such projects in the state of Kansas. We will be required to obtain an Electric Service Line permit from the KCC.

Participants:

Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC)
The KCC regulates and has the responsibility of ensuring electric utilities provide safe, adequate and reliable services at reasonable rates. The mission of the KCC is to protect the public interest through impartial and efficient resolution of all jurisdictional issues.

Southwest Power Pool (SPP)
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 of electricity. SPP operates subject to a tariff filed with and governed by FERC. This tariff contains over 2,100 pages of rates, terms and conditions for providing transmission service to SPP’s customers to move wholesale electric power within and across SPP’s 17-state footprint.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
FERC regulates the transmission and wholesale sales of electricity in interstate commerce and ensures the reliability of high-voltage interstate transmission systems.

Evergy, Inc. (Evergy)
Evergy, Inc. (NYSE: EVRG) serves approximately 1.6 million customers in Kansas and Missouri. We generate nearly half the power we provide to homes and businesses with emission-free sources. We support our local communities where we live and work and strive to meet the needs of customers through energy savings and innovative solutions.