FREE STATE SUBSTATION PROJECT

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Evergy is preparing to construct a new substation near Kasold Drive and Bob Billings Pkwy in Lawrence, Kansas. The improvements will increase electric reliability and strengthen the regional power grid, allowing us to serve area homes and businesses well into the future. This new, modern substation’s proximity to the university will not only provide enhanced electric reliability for the community but can also make research and educational opportunities possible for faculty and students for years to come.

What to expect

  • The substation will be surrounded by a nine to ten-foot-tall stonecast wall and feature security lighting that can be turned on and off as needed. The three steel poles within the substation will be approximately 65 feet tall.
  • We will build a short section of transmission line to connect the new substation to the power grid.
  • The existing transmission line south of the substation will be removed, leaving the existing distribution line in place. The poles will be reduced in height by approximately 20 to 35 feet.
  • A temporary access road will be built for construction purposes and removed once the substation is operational.
  • A permanent access road will be built from Bob Billings Parkway and Westbrooke to the substation to avoid traffic through neighboring residential areas when maintenance is needed.
  • Once the new substation is operational, the existing substation near KU's campus at West 19th St. and Meadowlark Ln. (which requires traffic through residential areas for maintenance) will be removed.

Project map 

View a rendering of the proposed substation here.

Free State Distribution Map

Timeline

This project is part of Evergy’s long-range plan to upgrade the transmission grid in eastern Kansas and increase electric reliability in Lawrence. Construction is expected to begin in Fall 2022. The project is scheduled to be complete and in-service by Summer 2024.

Property restoration will take place after construction is complete. Duration of restoration is weather dependent and varies by project, but properties will be restored to, near as reasonable, pre-construction condition. An Evergy project representative will communicate with property owners individually to discuss expected timeline and damage, if any, caused by construction.

Real Estate

We are committed to transparent and timely communications with landowners. We will contact landowners who have property on the transmission line route and purchased the easements necessary to build the line. We will also discuss what to expect from our construction efforts and restoration practices. Our intent is to leave property in a state comparable to pre-construction.

Health and Environment

Evergy believes the environment is an important factor when planning and designing transmission line projects. We work closely with the appropriate organizations from the beginning of projects to make sure any direct environmental impact is appropriately identified and addressed.

Landowners

We are committed to transparent and timely communications with landowners. We contacted landowners who have property along the line route to share project information and purchase easements to rebuild the line, if necessary. We also discussed what to expect from our construction efforts and restoration practices. Our intent is to leave property in a state comparable to pre-construction.

What is the Free State project?
Evergy is preparing to construct a new substation near Kasold Drive and Bob Billings Parkway in Lawrence, Kansas. Additionally, we will build a short section of transmission line to connect the substation to the power grid. Once the new substation is operational, the existing substation near KU’s campus at West 19th Street and Meadowlark Lane, which requires traffic through residential areas for maintenance, will be removed.

Why is this project needed?
The improvements will increase electric reliability and strengthen the regional power grid, allowing us to serve area homes and businesses well into the future. This new, modern substation’s proximity to the university will not only provide enhanced electric reliability for the community but can also make research and educational opportunities possible for faculty and students for years to come.

Who will benefit from the project?
Residents and businesses in Lawrence will receive the electricity from the new substation for their current and future needs. This project will benefit residents and businesses in Lawrence, eastern Kansas and beyond by strengthening the regional power grid and improving reliability. It also will provide tax revenue, construction jobs, local expenditures and will expand capabilities for future investment in area industry.

Who is responsible for this project?
Evergy will construct and own the new substation and transmission line. The Southwest Power Pool (SPP) operates the transmission system in the region for this transmission line. SPP will direct Evergy to operate the new transmission line.

When will the project be built?
In the coming weeks, the project will be presented to the city and county for a conditional use permit. If the permit is granted, we expect to begin construction in Fall 2022. The project is scheduled to be complete and in-service by Summer 2024.

What will the substation look like?
The substation will be surrounded by a nine to ten-foot-tall stonecast wall and feature security lighting that can be turned on and off as needed. The three poles within the substation will be steel and an average of 65 feet tall. 

What will the substation sound like?
An acoustics study determined the substation noise will be similar to the ambient noise measured in the adjacent neighborhood. The stone wall surrounding the substation will help buffer sound and additional measures to mitigate noise within the substation are being evaluated.

How will the substation be accessed?
A temporary access road will be built for construction purposes and removed once the substation is operational. A permanent access road will be built from Bob Billings Parkway and Westbrooke to the substation to avoid traffic through neighboring residential areas when maintenance is needed.

Who will maintain the substation?
Evergy will maintain the new substation, including landscaping inside and directly outside the stone wall. We will perform preventative maintenance at the substation once a month during normal business hours and will access the substation for equipment upgrades or unplanned maintenance as needed. 

How will I know it is authorized personnel at the substation?
Evergy employees utilize personal protection equipment, including hard hats, safety vests and safety glasses, when working in or around substations. All Evergy employees carry company identification. Most employees performing maintenance will be in marked Evergy vehicles. If you notice suspicious activity at the substation, please contact local law enforcement immediately.

What will the transmission line look like?
A short section of transmission line will be built from the substation to connect to the existing transmission line on Kasold Drive. The poles will be steel and an average of 70 feet tall. The existing transmission line south of the substation will be removed, leaving the existing distribution line in place. The poles will be reduced in height by approximately 20 to 35 feet.

What will be the impact on vegetation in the area?
Some of the existing trees and vegetation to the south of the substation will remain. Additional trees and landscaping will also be planted around the site.

Some trees and vegetation will be trimmed or removed for the safe construction and operations of the new section of transmission line. Potential routes for the transmission line were developed with the intent to minimize adverse impacts to residents, their land and the natural environment, while providing a technically viable and cost-effective route. We consider the impact on trees and vegetation when routing and designing our infrastructure, but regardless of which route was chosen for this build, some trees and vegetation in the area would be trimmed or removed.

Will the existence of a substation affect property values?
We completed a data collection of property value for homes near substations in Topeka and Manhattan. Home values continued to increase year after year with the substations nearby. Evergy strives to be a good neighbor to those who live near our facilities,

Who will build the substation and manage the construction?
Evergy will design and construct the transmission line using both Evergy resources and subcontractors depending on the task. Evergy will provide project management services and coordination during construction of the project.

How much will the project cost?
Since the project isn’t complete, final costs haven’t been determined, but the initial estimated investment for the substation and transmission line is approximately $8.5 million. Because the project will entirely benefit Evergy customers, costs will be reflected in customer rates.

What environmental impacts were considered with the siting of the project?
Evergy believes the environment is an important factor when planning and designing projects. We work closely with appropriate organizations, including the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, Kansas Historical Society, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Nature Conservancy from the beginning of projects to make sure any direct environmental impact is appropriately identified and addressed. We believe this kind of collaboration leads to developing a project that aligns with federal and state energy and environmental policy objectives. We adhere to all state and federal regulations to protect native plants, threatened or endangered species, wetlands and water and air quality.

Should I be concerned about electromagnetic fields (EMF)?
The potential for health effects caused by power lines has been studied for many years and no correlation has been found to transmission lines. Evergy does not consider electromagnetic fields to be a health threat based on published information. However, Evergy has adopted a prudent avoidance approach when locating all our electrical facilities. This means we locate transmission lines in a manner that minimizes exposure to electromagnetic fields. We encourage you to review the credible published research information from sources like the National Institute of Health and make your own determination.

Regulatory and Government Policy

Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC)
The KCC regulates and has the responsibility of ensuring electric utilities provide safe, adequate and reliable services at reasonable rates. The mission of the KCC is to protect the public interest through impartial and efficient resolution of all jurisdictional issues.

Southwest Power Pool (SPP)
The SPP is a Regional Transmission Organization (RTO), mandated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to ensure reliable supplies of power, adequate transmission infrastructure and competitive wholesale prices of electricity. SPP operates subject to a tariff filed with and governed by FERC. This tariff contains over 2,100 pages of rates, terms and conditions for providing transmission service to SPP’s customers to move wholesale electric power within and across SPP’s 17-state footprint.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
FERC regulates the transmission and wholesale sales of electricity in interstate commerce and ensures the reliability of high-voltage interstate transmission systems.

Evergy, Inc. (Evergy)
Evergy, Inc. (NYSE: EVRG) serves approximately 1.6 million customers in Kansas and Missouri. We generate nearly half the power we provide to homes and businesses with emission-free sources. We support our local communities where we live and work and strive to meet the needs of customers through energy savings and innovative solutions.