SOURCE: Westar Energy

Westar Energy

August 31, 2010 15:30 ET

Phase Two of New, High-Capacity Transmission Line From Wichita to Salina Complete

Project Is One of the Largest Transmission Infrastructure Additions in the State's History

TOPEKA, KS--(Marketwire - August 31, 2010) -  Westar Energy, Inc. (NYSE: WR) today announced phase two of a high-capacity transmission line project in south-central Kansas is complete and is now delivering electric service to customers.

On August 28, Westar energized the new 345 kilovolt line that connects Reno County Substation, located northeast of Hutchinson, with the Summit Substation, located southeast of Salina. This completes the second and final phase of a project to build a new, high-capacity transmission line from Wichita to Hutchinson to Salina.

Phase one of the line, from Gordon Evans Energy Center near Wichita to the Reno County Substation, was put in service on December 20, 2008.

"It has been about 25 years since Westar has constructed a line of this magnitude. We are celebrating this milestone and thanking the government agencies, landowners and communities for working together with Westar to help build a more robust transmission system in Kansas," said Kelly Harrison, vice president, transmission operations and environmental services. "Energizing phase two completes a 345 kV loop around the western portion of our system, eliminating a significant constraint in the Southwest Power Pool region for the movement of energy."

Planning of this project began in early 2006. The routing was approved by the Kansas Corporation Commission in May 2007, and construction began on phase one in January 2008. 

The line will allow Westar Energy to use its power plants more efficiently, saving its customers in fuel costs as well as increasing reliability in the area. Additionally, it will improve regional access to competitive wholesale power markets.

Westar continues to move forward with other high-capacity transmission projects. A 345 kV project from a substation near Rose Hill to the Sooner Substation northeast of Perry, Okla. is expected to be in service by early summer 2012. Westar Energy will construct the line from the Rose Hill Substation to the Kansas-Oklahoma border. Oklahoma Gas and Electric will build the line from the border to the Sooner Substation. 

Routing studies are also underway for the Prairie Wind Transmission double circuit 345 kV project from Wichita to Medicine Lodge and south to the Oklahoma border. That project is expected to be in service by late 2014. Westar is a co-owner of Prairie Wind Transmission.

Westar Energy, Inc. (NYSE: WR) is the largest electric utility in Kansas, providing electric service to more than 675,000 customers in the state. Westar Energy has about 6,500 megawatts of electric generation capacity and operates and coordinates approximately 33,000 miles of electric distribution and transmission lines.

For more information about Westar Energy, visit us on the Internet at http://www.WestarEnergy.com.