WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Some people in Riverside were upset about an Evergy plan to upgrade the area’s transmission lines.

On Wednesday, residents held a meeting to discuss the possibility of the company putting 100-foot poles in their neighborhood.

Evergy tells KSN News the project was in the early stages, and it hasn’t decided anything specific about the size or even location of the poles.

Some in Riverside say they are willing to work with Evergy, but they do not like what they have seen so far.

“If there are no changes, and they did send out an update that they are looking at opportunities, but if there are no changes, this is going to be 100-foot, six-foot-around poles through the heart of the historic district,” said Makayla Welch, Historic Midtown Citizen’s Association.

Evergy said the transmission line in question was built in the 1950s.

Back in 2020, the electric company rebuilt a section of transmission line in northeast Wichita after residents expressed concern about the size and placement of the steel poles.

Here is a statement Evergy sent to KSN News:

Evergy has met with representatives from the Midtown and Riverside neighborhoods about our plan to upgrade the transmission line that runs from 17th Street and Emporia Avenue to 11th Street and Jefferson. This line was built in the 1950s and the project is part of Evergy’s work to make electricity more reliable for the community and strengthen the regional power grid. At this early stage of the project, we don’t have specifics on pole location, size or material.

“Evergy is reviewing suggestions from the community regarding the line. We are also taking a step back to look more holistically at planned projects in the heart of Wichita to maintain reliability. This evaluation may take a few months, pushing out the timeline for this project.

“Cost and feasibility prevent undergrounding so we are focusing on alternatives that are possible. In many places, room isn’t available to rebuild the transmission line underground because other utilities (natural gas and water lines, for example) are already underground in this area. Transmission lines carry more electricity than distribution lines, which results in larger and more complex construction and higher costs when buried. Construction of underground transmission lines is generally about eight times more than overhead. As we work to maintain affordable electricity rates for our customers, we must take cost into consideration as those costs are included in our rates customers pay for their service.

“As options are identified, we will share our progress with the neighborhood. We thank them for their patience as we look for a solution to minimize our impact in their neighborhood while continuing to provide safe and reliable service.”

Kaley Bohlen
Evergy
Communications Manager