Archive for Thursday, July 1, 2004

BPU says it can’t keep up; hopes riding on substation

July 1, 2004

The Board of Public Utilities will go before the Kansas City, Kan., Planning Commission later this month for approval of a power substation that officials say will help alleviate potential service problems in Piper and western Wyandotte County.

"We need to go ahead and build one to service the Piper area so our customers don't have problems," BPU spokesperson Susan Allen said.

"We knew this was a possibility and is a possibility especially in the summer time when there is such a demand."

This week, BPU officials said customers in those areas could face power problems throughout the summer months -- times for peak usage -- and that development has increased power demands so much in the county's western portion that it could stop new customers from hooking up.

The potential substation, which would be located on approximately 25 acres of land east of 123rd Street and north of Leavenworth Road in western Wyandotte County, would help stop those problems in the future, Allen said.

"We need that substation in a certain area of our electrical load," Allen said. "That's where the best place for a substation would be."

Property owners in western Wyandotte County are currently supplied by one of 32 BPU substation. The Maywood substation is located at 99th Street and Parallel Road; BPU contends part of the problem facing some users stems from "a natural phenomenon,"Allen said.

Voltage decreases the farther it has to travel down a power line, she said.

BPU bought the land for the proposed substation, and as a possible facility for a water reservoir, in August of 2003. While BPU plans are firm in building the facility -- the project has been long planned and budgeted -- gaining authority from the necessary bodies has not been so easy.

To build the facility, the company needs a land easement from the Piper School Board, which has not yet given the company the go-ahead. In February, more than 120 area residents attended a public meeting on the proposed substation and voiced environmental concerns about the project.

BPU also needs final approval from the KCK Planning Commission, which tabled the issue last month. It will be brought back before the Planning Commission on July 12.

Allen said the substation project is already three to four months behind schedule. Once it's given the green light, the project is estimated to take between two and three years to complete. The delivery time for a new transformer alone is approximately 18 months, she said.

"We need the approval to get on with this," Allen said.

"It's not just something you can plunk down."

Although residences in western Wyandotte County may suffer from a myriad of problems this summer, large developments located inside the Village West tourism and entertainment district shouldn't have many problems, Allen said.

The district that houses the Kansas Speedway, Cabela's and Nebraska Furniture Mart and provides Wyandotte County with an infuse of revenue is fed electricity through a separate line than residences, Allen said.

"It's less like there than for residences in that area," she said.

Don Denney, a Unified Government of Wyandotte County spokesman, said the county is monitoring the power situation but is convinced BPU can fix the problem.

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