Garden City, Kansas, recently purchased transmission and distribution facilities from a rural electric cooperative, marking the final major step that the city has taken as part of revamping the city’s electric system.
Garden City’s public power utility was established in 1914 and currently serves 11,500 meters. The utility has a Platinum Reliable Public Power Provider rating from the American Public Power Association.
Before January 2014, Garden City was a full-requirement customer of the local electric cooperative for power supply and had been for over 30 years.
However, on January 1, 2014, Garden City began receiving all of its power supply needs from the Kansas Municipal Energy Agency (KMEA), which included the installation of 27 megawatts of natural gas generation at the Jameson Energy Center located in Garden City.
The move to KMEA has saved the city millions of dollars per year in power supply expenses. But the city was still paying the local electric cooperative a local access charge of $500,000 per year for 115-kV transmission access.
In 2017 and 2018, Garden City made plans to construct transmission lines and substations for access to the 115-kV transmission system, additional capacity, and better reliability.
In the spring of 2019, the local electric cooperative offered to sell portions of its system that would provide the city access to the 115-kV transmission system at a lesser cost than building new which would have created some stranded investments for the cooperative.
The city had offered to purchase some of the facilities years before, but those offers were not accepted.
Garden City ultimately agreed to purchase four substations and 1.5 miles (99 distribution poles) of distribution lines. Two of the four substations provided direct access to the 115-kV transmission system.
The city installed larger substation class transformers and upgraded them to include electronic equipment breakers /relays and connected it all to its SCADA system.
The city closed on this project at the end of 2021, and now has direct access, additional capacity and better reliability that it has sought since 2014 and no longer needs to pay the $500,000 local access charge per year.