By mid-July, ITC Great Plains officials should know whether state regulators have approved their proposed route for a new electric transmission line.


  By mid-July, ITC Great Plains officials should know whether state regulators have approved their proposed route for a new electric transmission line.
    The Kansas Corporation Commission will decide whether to grant a siting permit for the Kansas V-Plan, a 345,000-volt electric transmission line that would run through Ford, Clark, Kiowa and Barber counties. ITC is teaming up with Sunflower Electric Power Corp. and Mid-Kansas Electric Co. to build two segments of the line, and Prairie Wind Transmission will build a third section from Medicine Lodge to Wichita.
    The commission hosted a public meeting Wednesday in Greensburg to gather landowners' comments on the proposed route. The commission will take those comments and other evidence into account in deciding whether to grant the application.
    ITC officials estimated that 160 people attended the meeting, which began with a general information session complete with route maps and computer viewing stations. The hearing included a formal hearing in which 22 landowners addressed comments directly to the KCC.
    The commissioners were not allowed to respond to the landowners' comments, but they could ask questions to clarify issues.
    ITC business lead Carl Huslig said Friday that roughly half of the landowners supported the proposed route, while others expressed concerns about why ITC had not chosen another route.
    "Our filed route has the substation near Bloom, and then we go easterly up toward Bucklin and then over toward Greensburg," he said. "Their main theme  — and that was the theme of the night — was why didn't we follow Highway 54 between Mullinville and Bloom and not hit on Barber. And there was another landowner who provided an alternative. He said, 'Why don't you follow the Ford/Clark County border?'"
    Huslig said ITC sent its engineering firm out Thursday to drive along the alternative routes. The company has also launched an analysis to see whether those routes are feasible.
    The company has until May 2 to submit its responses to landowners' comments — positive and negative — to the KCC.
    Greensburg Mayor Bob Dixson, who attended the hearing, said he supports the project and the proposed route.
    "More than anything in this, it's about valuation and property valuation here in the three-county region that that line's going to go through — or four counties, I guess," he said. "It adds to the valuation of all those counties. It adds to the tax base, and it also is job creation and job generation. There are sustainable jobs that will be there.
    "So I think it's really good for the economy of south-central Kansas and southwest Kansas."
    The KCC is expected to issue a decision by July 12.
    
What's next?
    ITC spokesman Joe Kirik said once the KCC announces its decision, the company will immediately begin acquiring land for the transmission line.
    He said the company hopes to begin construction in the spring of 2013 and have the transmission line up and running by late 2014.

    Reach Eric Swanson at (620) 408-9917 or email him at eric.swanson@dodgeglobe.com.