In a community meeting held this week, Evergy (formerly Westar) presented two new options for replacing the poles along a short portion of the rebuilt transmission line in Northeast Wichita. It appeared few people were pleased by either of the proposed plans and that the consensus was, there’s probably not much more the community can do about it.
KS State Rep. Gail Finney, who was a leader in communicating the community’s concern about the poles to the electric company, said neither of the plans satisfied her.
In 2018, Northeast Wichita residents were surprised when the planned renovation of an existing transmission got underway. The renovation rebuilt a 50-year-old transmission line that went through the heart of the community and connected the 17th Street substation to the Mossman substation near 9th and Hillside.
According to Evergy, the old line no longer met current structural and electrical standards.
Besides the fact that few people knew about the planned upgrade, the community’s concern focused on the diameter and height of the replacement poles, as well as their proximity to homes. Gone were the modest wood poles. They were all replaced by much larger steel poles.
While some of the poles were placed directly into the ground, others were placed in massive concrete bases. Also, instead of placing the poles in the easement, they were placed on people’s lots. While Evergy did purchase land for the easement from the property owners, many of them said they were misled about the size and height of the replacement poles.
After months of complaints from the community, Evergy agreed to replace some of the poles.
Rep. Finney says she was surprised that the proposal presented at the meeting only included replacing poles along Mossman and Green Streets, a distance that appears to amount to less than 25% of the line that was replaced. The plan does not call for replacement of poles in portions of the line along 11th Street, Hydraulic or 17th Street.
Green and Mossman are the most residential blocks of the route, with the narrowest streets, and as a result the poles seemed particularly invasive along both streets. Evergy put forth the following two options to diminish the impact of the poles along Mossman and Green:
Option A. The company would replace the 90’ steel poles with 79’ wood poles. Where possible, they would move the wood poles 10 to 15’ closer to the roadway. Steel poles would remain where the transmission lines change directions. In other words, the taller poles with the large cement bases would stay intact.
Along this segment of the route, there are 4 large cement base poles and approximately 14 steel poles that are placed directly into the ground. These 14 would be replaced with wooden poles.
Option B. The company would replace the 90’ steel poles with 79’ wood poles and the four large steel base poles would also be replaced with wooden poles. However, to comply with current standards, the direction-change poles would need to be guide-wired to the ground to ensure they could withstand Kansas' strong winds.
Option C. Is no option. This option will leave things as they are.
Evergy’s timeline for moving forward has them evaluating community feedback then finalizing engineering with construction expected to begin in fall 2020. The project would be complete with restoration work finished by spring 2021.
If you have questions, you can reach a dedicated Evergy representative at 316-261-6564. You can also stay up to date on the project at everrgy.com/newichita.