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Transmission information for landowners

Working around transmission lines

Contact with electric lines, especially high-voltage lines, can cause serious injury or fatality. Please use extreme caution when in close proximity to power lines.

The following are OSHA-established distances to maintain when near power lines:
Lines rated 50 kV or below

For lines rated 50 kV or below, minimum clearance between the lines and any part of the crane or load shall be 10 feet.

Lines rated over 50 kV

For lines rated over 50 kV, minimum clearance between the lines and any part of equipment or load shall be 10 feet plus 0.4 inch for each 1 k. over 50 kV, or twice the length of the line insulator, but never less than 10 feet.

 

Line voltage
OSHA regulation
Westar recommended
69kV
11 feet
161kV 13.7 feet
20 feet
345kV 19.8 feet
25 feet

Clearance safety

In transit with no load and boom lowered, the equipment clearance shall be a minimum of 4 feet for voltages less than 50 kV and 10 feet for voltages over 50 kV, up to and including 345 kV, and 16 feet for voltages up to and including 750 kV.

Any overhead wire should always be considered to be an energized line unless the person owning such line or the electrical utility authorities indicate that it is not an energized line and it has been visibly ground.

A person shall be designated to observe clearance of the equipment and give timely warning for all operations where it is difficult for the operator to maintain the desired clearance by visual means.

The Kansas Overhead Power line Accident Prevention Act

The Kansas Overhead Power Line Accident Prevention Act is a statute making it illegal for an unauthorized person or entity to work or bring equipment within 10 feet of a high-voltage overhead line that has not been covered or de-energized. The purpose of the Kansas Overhead Power Line Accident Prevention Act is to ensure the safety of the public when working around power lines.

66-1709. Citation of Act
This act may be cited and shall be known as the overhead power line accident prevention act.


66-1710. Definitions

As used in this act::

(a) "Authorized person" means:
1.    An employee of a public utility or an employee or a contractor which has been authorized by a public utility to perform construction, operation or maintenance on or near the poles or structures of any utility;
2.    An employee of a cable television or communication services company or an employee of a contractor authorized to make cable television or communication service attachments; or
3.    An employee of the state, county or municipality which has authorized circuit constructions, operation or maintenance on or near the poles or structures of a public utility.
(b) "High voltage" means electricity in excess of 600 volts measured between conductors or between a conductor and the ground.

(c) "Overhead Lines" means all electrical conductors installed above ground.

(d) "Person" means an individual, firm, joint venture, partnership, corporation, association, municipality or governmental unit which contracts to perform any function or activity upon any land, building, highway or other premises in proximity to an overhead line.

(e) "Public utility" means and includes those entities defined in K.S.A. 66-104, and amendments thereto, municipally owned electrical systems and electrical cooperatives as defined in K.S.A. 17-4601 et seq., and amendments thereto.


66-1711. Prohibition against certain acts; exception.
Unless danger against contact with high voltage overhead lines has been guarded against as provided by K.S.A. 66-1712, no person, individually or through an agent or employee, shall store, operate, erect, maintain, move or transport any tools, machinery, equipment, supplies or materials, within 10 feet of any high voltage overhead line, or perform or require any other person to perform any function or activity if at any time during the performance thereof it is reasonably foreseeable that the person performing the function or activity could move or be placed within 10 feet of any high voltage overhead line.


66-1712. Notification to public utility of prohibited acts; costs incurred by public utility charged to person responsible for activity, disagreement, arbitration.

(a) When any person desires to carry out temporarily any function or activity in closer proximity to any high voltage overhead line than is permitted by this act, the person or persons responsible for the function or activity shall notify the public utility which owns or operates the high voltage overhead line of the function or activity and shall make appropriate arrangements with the public utility for temporary barriers, temporary rerouting of electric current or temporary relocating of the conductors before proceeding with any function or activity which would impair the clearances required by this act.

(b) A person or persons requesting a public utility to provide temporary clearances or other safety precautions shall be responsible for payment of only those costs incurred by such utility in the temporary rerouting of electric current or the temporary relocating of the conductors., Upon request, a public utility shall provide temporary rerouting of electric current or temporary relocating of the conductors. Unless otherwise agreed to, or unless circumstances require a longer period of time before work commences in order to assure continuity of service to electric customers, a public utility shall commence work on such temporary rerouting of electric current, temporary relocating of the conductors, temporary barriers or temporary de-energization and ground of the conductors as may be appropriate, within seven working days after such notification has been made in accordance with subsection (a) of K.S.A. 66-1712.

(c) If a person requesting a public utility to provide temporary rerouting of electric current or the temporary relocating of the conductors disagrees with the reasonableness of the written costs estimate or the description of the work to be performed, the following options are available to such person:
1.    Such person under protest may pay the utility for the work in accordance with the written cost estimate, but shall be entitled to seek recovery of all or any part of the money so paid in an arbitration proceeding as hereinafter provided; or;
2.    Prior to directing the work to be performed, the person or persons may submit to binding arbitration, as hereinafter provided, to resolve the issue of the reasonableness of the written cost estimate or the description or extent of the work to be performed by the public utility under such estimate.


(d) Disputes submitted to binding arbitration under this section shall be submitted in accordance with the procedures set forth in K.S.A. 5-401 et seq., and amendments thereto. The decision of arbitrator or arbitrators as to the reasonableness of the costs or the necessity of the work to be performed shall be final and binding upon the parties.


66-1713. Posted of required warning signs.
Each person, individually or through an agent or employee, or as an agent or employee, who operates any crane, derrick, power shovel, drilling rig, hoisting equipment, or similar apparatus, any part of which is capable of operating in closer proximity to any high voltage overhead line than is permitted by this act, shall post and maintain in plain view of the operator thereof, a durable warning sign, legible at 12 feet, stating: "Unlawful to operate this equipment within 10 feet of high voltage overhead lines unless protected from contact danger." Each day's failure to post or maintain such signs shall constitute a separate violation.


66-1714 Penalties; presumption of negligence.
(a) Except as provided further, every person as defined herein who violates any of the provisions of this act may be subject to a civil penalty in a sum set by the court of not more than $1,000 for each violation. The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to a person who, at this time the act or acts occur which constitute a violation, is acting as an agent or employee under the direction of an individual, joint venture, partnership, corporation, association, municipality or governmental unit.

(b) When it is shown by evidence in a civil action that personal injury, death or other damages, including damage to any high voltage overhead line, occurred as result of a violation of this act, there shall be a violation of this act;, there shall be a rebuttable presumption of negligence on the part of the violator.

(c) Nothing in this act is intended to limit or modify the provisions of:
1.    K.S.A. 60-258a, and amendments thereto; or
2.    The national electrical safety code, which would otherwise be applicable.


66-1715. Non-application of act to certain situations
This act does not apply to:
(a) Construction, operation or maintenance by an authorized person as defined herein;

(b) highway vehicles or agriculture equipment which is normal use may incidentally pass within the clearances prescribed by this act;

(c) the operation or maintenance of any equipment traveling or moving upon fixed rails;

(d) governmental entities responding to an emergency situation; or

(e) moving buildings or structures on streets, alleys, roads and highways pursuant to K.S.A. 17-1914 et seq., and amendments thereto.


66-1716. Severability of act.
If any provision of this act or the application thereof to any person or circumstances is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect other provisions or application of this act which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application and to this end the provisions of this act are severable.

Emergencies and storms

Because transmission lines are critical for supplying large amounts of power from generation facilities to substations, repairing damaged transmission structures during storms and significant events is top priority.

An H-frame sustains damage from a 2007 ice storm, the worst ice storm in Westar's history.

Loss of power from transmission lines is critical for two reasons:
  • Transmission lines provide power to substations, and the loss of power can result in an outage to thousands of customers.
  • Substations contain relays and breaker controls that operate to protect transmission lines and stabilize the power grid as a whole.
Restoring transmission line outages

During extreme weather conditions, utilities face several physical obstacles in restoring power to transmission:

  • Significant structural damage, which often requires rebuilding.  
  • Difficulty in accessing fields and customer properties
  • Difficulty navigating terrain
  • Coordination of several utility crews

Transmission easement

An easement is an interest in property that gives Westar legal right to use property for the specific purpose of constructing, operating and maintaining transmission lines and the supporting structures.

When constructing a power line, Westar typically acquires access to and use of land by purchasing easements from landowners, rather than purchasing property outright. Landowners retain ownership of the surrounding land, but its use is limited to activities that do not compromise the lines' reliability and safety. Landowners are compensated for the easement. 

Easement requirements

Westar Energy defines transmission line easement widths in order to provide enough working space to comply with code and reliability requirements for tree trimming, overhead circuits and support structures. Easements also provide access for company vehicles to enter and exit property, and for construction, operation and maintenance of transmission lines as needed. 

  • The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) establishes line clearance standards for the U.S. transmission system.
  • Westar Energy is required by NERC to maintain easements free of encroaching trees and brush that may interfere with transmission line's operation at full capacity.
  • Westar may also selectively remove and/or prune tall trees located off the easement that may present a hazard to the transmission line.
  • Utilities failing to maintain required clearance may face substantial fines. 
  • Easement  requirements vary depending on line voltage and structure configuration. In nearly all cases, a 50- to 150-foot easement is needed.
How easements are acquired

When easements are required for new or existing transmission lines, our real-estate representatives work with landowners to acquire necessary rights.

Easement rights

Westar has the right to remove anything located within an easement. This includes, but is not limited to: garden sheds, swing sets, swimming pools, gazebos, benches, hay/straw bales, etc.

Line routing philosophy

 

New transmission is an asset to the state of Kansas and the surrounding regions. Increasing the reliability of our transmission system has numerous benefits, including: 

  • Improves operational flexibility
  • Improves capability to transfer electric energy within Kansas
  • Increases access to lower-cost electric energy for Westar Energy customers
  • Enhances the ability of Regional Transmission Organizations to sell transmission service
Siting new lines

When selecting a new transmission route, Westar follows guidelines set forth by the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) to gather feedback. Factors when siting lines:

  • Avoiding proximity to homes, businesses, public facilities, farming and ranching operations
  • Following roads or existing transmission lines
  • Minimizing effects on wildlife habitat and wetlands
  • Length and cost of the line

Westar real-estate representatives contact landowners for easement rights. Compensation for easement is negotiated based on the amount of property on which the easement is needed and the market value of property.

Access to transmission assets
  • Trucks will need to enter the area to keep trees cleared from the easement area and make repairs or replace lines and supporting structure.
  • Westar will repair damage caused by its employees and contractors during the line's construction and maintenance. 

Right-of-way

A right-of-way is a portion of land for which Westar has documented legal rights to construct, operate, maintain and repair electric transmission lines supported by structures. The transmission line is generally centered in the right-of-way.

The width of the right-of-way varies depending upon line voltage and structure configuration. Typically, right-of-way distance is between 50 - 150 ft. The right-of-way must be kept clear of vegetation and other structures that could interfere with the transmission line.

Electromagnetic Interference

*Information regarding electric magnetic fields is summarized from a publication from the National Institute of Health. 

What are electric and magnetic fields (EMFs)

Electric and magnetic fields are invisible lines of force that surround any electrical device. Power lines, electrical wiring and electrical equipment, as well as many other things, produce EMF. Electric fields are produced by voltage. Magnetic fields result from the flow of current through the wires. EMFs associated with electricity have extremely low frequency -- 60 hertz in North America. Volumes of information about EMF research are available through the National Institute of Health’s EMF RAPID website at http://www.niehs.nih.gov/emfrapid/home.htm.

How has EMF safety been studied?

EMF exposure has been the subject of studies for more than 30 years. Worldwide, a variety of studies has been conducted to determine the potential health effects of EMF exposure. Studies include laboratory and clinical studies and epidemiology, which is to study a group of people that has experienced exposure and see if their risk of disease is different than people who have not.

What are the results of the EMF studies?

Studies to determine possible links between EMFs and childhood leukemia have been inconclusive. Recent studies show no association between adult or childhood cancer. Previous, less comprehensive studies had suggested such a link may exist. Because the studies have provided inconclusive results, Westar Energy practices “prudent avoidance,” which means we maintain a minimum distance of 50 feet between transmission facilities and dwellings wherever possible.

What will the approximate strength of the fields be on the ground below the line? Seventy-five feet away?

Mark F. Doljac, an engineer for the Kansas Corporation Commission, offered this testimony regarding a similarly sized line that is to be built from Wichita to Reno County to Salina: 

"[…] 75 feet from the centerline of the route, which is the edge of the [right of way] the maximum magnetic field intensity during operation will be no greater than 21 milligauss (mG) at the forecasted 2012 summer peak demand, and no greater than 124 mG if the lines are operated at maximum rated current. By comparison, 20 mG is the magnetic field intensity for a typical electric blanket at a distance of 2 inches, a dishwasher or clothes washer at 6 inches, an electric shaver or copy machine at a distance of 1 foot and an electric can opener at 2 feet. Typical appliances with magnetic field intensities equal to or greater than 100 mG are electric shavers, mixers and portable heaters at a distance of 6 inches (100 mG), electric drills at 1 foot (150 mG), microwave ovens, electric pencil sharpeners and power saws at 6 inches (200 mG), and hair dryers and vacuum cleaners at 6 inches (300 mG). The magnetic field intensity decreases as the distance from the line increases. […]" 

"[…] the maximum electric field intensity during operation will be no greater than 1.8 kilovolts per meter (kV/m) at 75 feet from the center of the line. Beyond the edge of the [right of way], the electric field intensity also decreases with increasing distance from the line." 

Will the line affect pacemakers?

If you wear a pacemaker, you should consult the manufacturer for specific guidelines. Under certain circumstances, EMFs can interfere with a pacemaker’s ability to sense normal electrical activity in the heart. Most commonly, the electronic circuitry in the pacemaker might detect the presence of interference and direct the pacemaker to operate in a regular, life-preserving mode. This is not considered hazardous. Dual-chamber pacemakers have at times paced inappropriately before reversing to the life-preserving mode. The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists has recommended that at the frequency a transmission line operates, exposure be limited to 1,000 mG for magnetic fields and 1kV/m for electric fields.

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