Westar Energy is making the electric service in the Quinton Heights neighborhood more reliable by rebuilding the local electric circuit. The circuit was selected because customers served by it have experienced frequent outages and repairs take longer than they should because the design of the neighborhood makes it difficult to access power lines. We plan to use this project as an example of how we can improve reliability for all our customers. As part of the project, nearly all equipment on this circuit will be replaced:
Electricity powers lives – both our necessities and our fun – like never before. Much of the infrastructure that delivers electricity has been in service 30 to even 50, 60 or more years. While we’ve maintained it over time, just as with a trusted family car, it eventually reaches a point where the safe, cost-effective thing to do is to replace it with more modern equipment. We are launching eight initiatives to install equipment that is stronger, more resilient to storms and, in some cases, able to communicate potential problems back to our technicians, either preventing an outage or shortening an outage because we are able to locate the cause of the outage faster.
When the project is complete they can expect to have more reliable service. Also, this fall, when we upgrade meters, they will be able to use an online dashboard to better understand when they use electricity. They will also be able to set budget and usage alerts. When outages occur, the new meter will help Westar pinpoint the location faster, which means getting their power back on sooner.
During construction they may experience some inconveniences, but we will do our best to minimize them and keep them informed. We have a team dedicated to working with our customers and property owners when we need to complete work near their home or business. We will work with residents and business owners regarding any access that is needed for the reconstruction. Also, when the time to work on an individual property draws near, we will let them know.
We are rebuilding the electrical equipment – poles, transformers, wires, etc. – that serves the neighborhood. Most all equipment on the circuit will be replaced, some newer equipment will be inspected and maintained as needed. We will upgrade the streetlights and any private area lights in the area to high-efficiency LED. Also, will upgrade the meters for all the homes and businesses to current digital technology.
When a car reaches a certain age it makes more sense to replace it than repair it. The same applies to electrical equipment. By updating the equipment that delivers electricity to our customers, we will reduce outages and the need for expensive, inconvenient emergency repairs. It also means we are less likely to have employees and equipment in the easements around your house to make repairs. We will use our results from this project to demonstrate how it can benefit more customers.
A few years ago we took a proactive approach to tree trimming, with our ReliabiliTree program. We’ve reduced tree-related power outages by 60 percent. We expect to build on that success with this program.
The Quinton Heights circuit, which serves you, has experienced more outages than other circuits in recent years. Also, with the layout of the neighborhood it can be difficult for us to get to the electrical system in this area, so outages last longer and the risk of damaging private property is higher.
To bury the lines would cost about five times more, which means the project would become too expensive for even a single circuit. In addition, burying the lines in a well-established neighborhood means years of invasive construction work, tearing up roads, sidewalks and yards and damaging landscapes.
Not right away, but when we file for our next review of prices, we will include the cost for this and related programs to make proactive improvement to the power grid, totaling about $50 million. The costs will be distributed among most of our customers. For a residential customer, it will eventually mean about 75 cents more per month.
Sabrena Gonzalez is available to help you as your dedicated Westar representative for this project. You may reach her at Sabrena.email@example.com.
You may also call our Customer Relations Center at 1 (800) 383-1183 and let us know. Our engineers will review the information and determine next steps.