Prairie Wind Transmission, LLC, a joint venture between Westar Energy and Electric Transmission America, filed its siting permit application with the Kansas Corporation Commission yesterday to request permission to build a new, double circuit 345 kV transmission line. The line would go from Westar Energy's Wichita 345 kV substation, about one mile northeast of Colwich, to a new substation just east of Medicine Lodge, Kansas, and then south to the Kansas-Oklahoma border. Oklahoma Gas and Electric (OGE) will continue the line from the Kansas-Oklahoma border to its Woodward Substation, about 10 miles south of Woodward, Oklahoma.

The project is part of the Y-Plan that the Southwest Power Pool approved last year. This high-capacity transmission line will improve the regional electric grid by better integrating the east and west regions and facilitating the addition of renewable generation to the electric grid.

Late last year and early this year, Prairie Wind Transmission conducted six open houses to exchange information with landowners near several routes being considered for the transmission line. About 294 completed questionnaires were received from landowners and area residents who attended open houses or contacted Prairie Wind Transmission regarding the line.

"We encourage landowners to be a part of the process, and the open houses and questionnaires promote that by bringing landowners into the conversation and giving them the opportunity to provide valuable input," said Kelly Harrison, Prairie Wind Transmission president.

Prairie Wind Transmission enlisted the services of an outside engineering firm to perform a routing study and analyze the feedback received from the open houses. The results of this analysis were used to complete a comprehensive summary of all the route segments that were being considered for this line and ultimately led to the selection of a preferred route. Landowners generally indicated they preferred a route that would minimize the proximity to residences, maintain reliable electric service, minimize length across tilled agricultural land, maximize the distance from public facilities, and maximize the distance from businesses.

With the KCC's approval expected in late June 2011, Prairie Wind transmission will begin working with landowners to acquire easements in the July-August 2011 time frame. Once easements have been acquired, construction is estimated to begin in the summer of 2012. The company anticipates the project will be complete at the end of 2014. Prairie Wind currently estimates that it will cost about $225 million to construct the proposed line.