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Wichita City Council Member Wants Oversized Transmission Poles Replaced

calabria_poll.jpg
Carla Eckels
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KMUW/File photo
Angelica Calabria rents a home with a large metal utility pole installed in the front yard.

Wichita City Council member Brandon Johnson wants Evergy to replace new metal electric poles in some neighborhoods with wooden ones.

Johnson represents District 1, where many of the transmission poles that top 100 feet were recently installed.

“To see 2.8 miles of neighborhood having these industrial poles … is just unheard of,” Johnson said.

Evergy is the electric company that now oversees the transmission poles. It was formed from a merger of Westar Energy of Topeka and Great Plains Energy of Kansas.

The company did compensate some homeowners whose properties were affected by the new poles. Johnson said he thinks the company owes residents a more permanent solution -- replacing the metal poles with wooden ones.

“I would love to see those poles come down because it’s not fair for the community,” he said. “If Evergy opposes those, than I guess we will be seeing one another, both in Topeka as well as continue hearing from the community.”

The company installed more than 50 commercial-grade transmission line poles in residential neighborhoods last fall as part of system upgrade. Company officials say the poles will help provide more electricity to areas like Wichita State University and Wesley Medical Center.

Johnson said he wants to prevent this from happening to Kansans in the future through legislation in Topeka.

House Bill 2317 expands the definition of electric transmission lines and mandates that utility companies obtain a siting permit, fix public hearings and be held accountable to the Kansas Corporation Commission before taking any action.

The bill was introduced in February by Rep. Gail Finney, a Democrat from Wichita. The bill is expected to be discussed when the Legislature returns in May.

Audrey Korte is a member of the KMUW News Lab.