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Friday, April 18, 2014

New company to build high-voltage power lines

By Steve Everly
Kansas City Star

Great Plains Energy is working with American Electric Power, one of the nation’s largest electric utility companies, to build high-voltage transmission lines.

They have formed a new company, called Transource Energy, to pursue this business. Great Plains will own 13.5 percent of Transource and Columbus, Ohio-based American Electric 86.5 percent.

The partnership comes in the wake of new regulations from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to spark more competition in constructing high-voltage lines needed to deliver power between various regions of the country.

The first two projects for the new company will be lines previously announced by Great Plains Energy, which is the parent of Kansas City Power & Light.

Both of those lines will be in part of its service territory but other transmission projects could be entirely in other parts of the country.

“Our nation’s bulk electric system requires significant investment in transmission infrastructure to improve reliability, reduce congestion, increase access to renewable energy resources and allow for a smarter and more efficient grid,” Mike Chesser, CEO of Great Plains, said in a statement.

The partnership is expected to give Great Plains Energy flexibility to focus on other infrastructure investments for its utility customers.

The first two projects include a 175-mile line from Sibley, Mo., to Nebraska City, Neb. Plans calls for Transource to build about 170 miles of the project with Omaha Public Power District doing the rest. The project’s estimated cost is $380 million and could be in operation by 2017. The other project is a 30-mile line from near Weston, Mo., to Smithville. It is estimated to cost $54 million and be in operation in 2015

American Electric Power delivers electricity to more than 5 million customers in 11 states; it owns 39,000 miles of transmission lines, one of the largest networks in the country.

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