Wind projects' costs irk utilities in 9-state pool

Wichita EagleJuly 26, 2011 

Not everybody is happy about Kansas' move into a wind-powered future. Several utilities in the region that are being asked to help foot a bill for hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade high voltage lines in western Kansas remain upset about the process.

The projects — critical to the development of the wind industry in western Kansas — were approved last year. Construction will begin in mid-2012, and the lines are scheduled to be in service by the end of 2014.

But the debate over the projects has roiled the Southwest Power Pool, an association of utilities spread across nine states that includes all of the Kansas utilities.

As a result of the dispute, the power pool is redesigning the way it evaluates project costs, in the hope that it eliminates the unpleasant surprise of sharp cost increases.

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