ITC Great Plains KETA Project Provides Voltage Grid Capacity

Fri September 13, 2013 - Midwest Edition
Mary Reed


A variety of equipment was utilized on the job. The two most commonly used cranes were 40 and 45 ton (36  and 41 t) National cranes on the line construction work.
A variety of equipment was utilized on the job. The two most commonly used cranes were 40 and 45 ton (36 and 41 t) National cranes on the line construction work.
A variety of equipment was utilized on the job. The two most commonly used cranes were 40 and 45 ton (36  and 41 t) National cranes on the line construction work. The Spearville-Axtell line, commonly referred to as the KETA project, provides additional capacity for the regional high voltage grid from Spearville, near Dodge City, through the Hays area (both centers of major demand in western Kansas) and on to Axtell The Nebraska Public Power District is responsible for the Nebraska segment from the Kansas-Nebraska border north to Axtell, a distance of approximately 53 mi. (85 km). Good weather allowed the second phase, the 85 mi. (137 km) segment from Post Rock to the Nebraska border, to be completed six months ahead of schedule. The project was first proposed more than four years ago with an estimated cost of $200 million.

A recently completed electric transmission line from Kansas to Nebraska has moved into full operation after the first phase, 89 mi. (143 km) of high-voltage line between Spearville and the Post Rock substation, near Hays, went into service in June 2012.

The Spearville-Axtell line, commonly referred to as the KETA project, provides additional capacity for the regional high voltage grid from Spearville, near Dodge City, through the Hays area (both centers of major demand in western Kansas) and on to Axtell, Neb. The Nebraska Public Power District is responsible for the Nebraska segment from the Kansas-Nebraska border north to Axtell, a distance of approximately 53 mi. (85 km).

“ITC Great Plains was designated by Sunflower Electric Power Corporation and Midwest Energy Inc. to design, construct, own, and operate the Kansas portion of this project. ITC Holdings Corporation is the largest independent electricity transmission company in the country. Our subsidiary ITC Great Plains LLC is a transmission-only utility with authority to construct, own, operate and maintain a regulated, high-voltage transmission system in the Southwest Power Pool region,” said Joe Kirik, senior capital communications specialist, ITC Holdings Corporation.

Work on Phase I of the Spearville-Axtell line, from Spearville to Post Rock, began in October 2010. Construction, testing, and commissioning of Phase I was completed in June 2012, and Phase II from Post Rock to Nebraska was completed and went into service in December 2012.

The project was first proposed more than four years ago with an estimated cost of $200 million. However, Kirik pointed out, “the latest cost estimate we have released for the Great Plains portions of the line, that is from Spearville to Post Rock to the Nebraska border or approximately 174 miles (Phases I and II) is $160 million, although this is not necessarily the final figure.” In addition, construction costs are $25 million less than last year’s recalculated figures submitted to regulators.

“A total of approximately 130 personnel were employed over the course of the project. Peak employment at any one time was approximately 80 skilled tradesmen constructing the line (foundations, poles, conductor stringing), plus additional skilled trades constructing the Post Rock substation near Hays, Kansas, and the expansion at Spearville, Kansas, substation. These varied in number as construction progressed, peaking at around 20,” said Kirik.

A variety of equipment was utilized on the job. The two most commonly used cranes were 40 and 45 ton (36 and 41 t) National cranes on the line construction work. The equipment fleet also included National and Altec boom trucks, an IMT 230 drill rig used for foundation work, and a Caterpillar C85 Challenger that transported trailers and equipment on the construction right of way.

Specialized equipment for construction of the transmission line included a Morgan Puller 20,000-lb. (9,071 kg) 3 drum wire puller and a Wagner Smith Hydraulic Bundle Tensioner, both used for installing conductors (stringing wires). A Valmont hydraulic jack model #1013 R2 was used to mate pole segments together.

Subcontractors working on the job included Black & Veatch, which provided construction management and construction inspection services. MYR Transmission Services was responsible for pole assembly and erection, conductor stringing, and substation construction, and their subcontractor Aldridge handled construction of pole foundations. Power Test Engineering carried out substation testing and commissioning.

Good weather allowed the second phase, the 85 mi. (137 km) segment from Post Rock to the Nebraska border, to be completed six months ahead of schedule.