A proposal by Clean Line Energy Partners may put a high voltage transmission line through the northwest corner of Clay County to move a large amount of power from wind farms in Western Kansas to where it can be utilized in the eastern US.
“As you know we have a vast wind resource in Kansas … (but) until we find a way to move it, it’s an isolated resource,” Mark Lawlor, director of development for Clean Line Energy Partners, said in a presentation Monday on the “Grain Belt Express Clean Line” to Clay County Commissioners.
The company is considering several routes for the transmission line, include a few in Washington county. One proposal would follow gas lines that cut through northwestern Clay County and eventually connect to power grids in Illinois, Indiana and Missouri were it can be utilized by a huge demand for power. The route following gas lines is being considered because of the minimal impact a line there would have – farmers and residents there are already impacted by the gas lines.
The high voltage line would be able to move 3500 megawatts of power generated by the wind farms through a direct-current line rather then a traditional AC current line. Kansas only uses about 2,000 megawatts across the entire state, so to best utilize the resource, it needs to be marketed outside of the state, Lawlor said.
The reason direct-current is preferred is because direct current is more efficient and has less line loss over a long distance and is more reliable, Lawlor explained. However this line has its own challenges, including cost and communities along the way not being able to connect to it without a converter station, which costs millions of dollars to build. Adding this line to existing AC electric line also isn’t a viable option because there is limited capacity on those lines.
The $2 billion line (or about $2 million a mile) will trigger an additional $7 billion in wind farms and would be paid for by customers using the power rather than spread over a large number of electric customers who may or may not use it, Lawlor said. The project is expected to create 5,000 construction jobs and 500 permanent jobs to maintain the line. Additionally, there are opportunities for local business partnerships, Lawlor said.
“It’s a huge boost to the economy,” he said.
The line has yet to be approved by the Kansas Corporation Commission, who will consider the proposal Dec. 1. Public open houses in Concordia and Washington and notifications sent to landowners in a three-mile corridor will precede any construction, which isn’t planned until 2015 or 2016.
Factors that will be considered in choosing the route include public input, reducing impact to land, avoid homes and residences, environmental and historical considerations.
Commissioner David Thurlow, whose district includes the area where the line may go, said it was “a good route.”
“I don’t think we’ll have any particular objection,” Commissioner Jerry Mayo said.
According to County Clerk Kayla Wang’s minutes:
— Commissioner Spicer, Commissioner Mayo, and Commissioner Thurlow were present at a regular meeting beginning at 8:30 a.m. The minutes were approved as printed. Payroll in the amount of $149,780.82 was reviewed and approved by commissioners.
— The chairman signed a letter of support for the Clay County Task Force to apply for a grant with the Kansas Department of Transportation to assist in the costs of vehicle operations for the general public transportation. The task force’s transportation program is essential to the citizens of Clay County in meeting their transportation needs. Many of Clay County citizens would have no means of transportation without it.
— EMS Director Marvin VanBlaricon met with commissioners to give the weekly report. Permission was granted to purchase a replacement washer from Wall’s Scratch and Dent store in the amount of $724 to be paid out of the Ambulance fund.
— Mark Lawlor, Grain Belt Express Clean Line, met with commissioners to discuss the new transmission line that will be coming through the north part of Clay County in the next couple of years. Clean Line Energy is developing HVDC transmission lines to bring low-cost renewable energy to market. The line will start in western Kansas and travel east into Missouri, Illinois, ending in Indiana. Public informational meetings will be scheduled in the future.
— Economic Development Director Lori Huber. Barrett Long, Long’s Ranch and Supply, and Maury Catlin, Revolving Loan Committee Chairman met with commissioners to discuss the possibility of reducing the revolving loan payment for Long’s Ranch and Pet Supply to interest only for the period of December 2012 to November 2013, then reviewed at that time. Commissioners granted permission to reduce the payment for one year.
— Sheriff Chuck Dunn met with commissioners to give the weekly report.
— Commissioners approved an event approval for Cindy Paillet, Appraiser’s Office, to attend a training class in Hays on Dec. 6.
— Commissioners approved an event approval for David Thurlow to attend a meeting for North Central Regional Planning Commission in Beloit on Dec. 27.
— Commissioners signed the Non State Public Employer Certification Form for the Counties Health Insurance.
— Interim Highway Administrator Ronnie Tremblay met with commissioners to give a weekly update on the department. Tremblay reported that they are out of patching oil and would need to contract it through an individual in Wichita, Kansas to purchase. Commissioners informed Tremblay to research the cost and the possibility of purchasing a partial load of approximately 2,000 gallons. If he feels that it would be effective to go ahead and purchase so that the Department would be able to continue patching the roads. The department will continue to replace pipes, dirt work and tree work throughout the county.
— Randy Gassman, Pottberg, Gassman, & Hoffman, met with commissioners to present the final 2011 County Audit. After reviewing the audit, Gassman reported that all requirements were met and that there were no findings or violations found in the county audit.
— Commissioners adjourned at 12:30 p.m.