TOPEKA (KSNT) – A massive Westar Energy project in Topeka is raising some eyebrows in several neighborhoods.
The issue is massive transmission poles the utility is installing to replace aging, existing wooden poles.
” More weather resistant,” says Westar spokesperson Gina Penzig. ” So yes, we expect to be able to reduce outages and shorten power outages when they do happen.”
The poles are 11 stories tall and roughly five feet in diameter. They’ll replace wooden poles that are nearly three decades old.
The utility says the new poles are more efficient, will stand up to storms better, and the $14M project will also allow them to decommission five electric substations.
“What we’ve seen here lately,” says Penzig “through just infrastructure kind of reaching its natural end of life. Again changes our expectations around reliability and how we use electricity.”
But the new changes are being met with some unhappy customers.
“No, No!,” says Charles Crevoiserat. “Not everyone is thrilled with this project. At least I can speak for myself in terms of that.”
In a few weeks Crevoiserat can expect one of these large poles in his lawn, ten feet from his home. Others face similar issues.
“This man told the Westar man not to come over on his property again,” says Crevoiserat. “He didn’t want to see him. I haven’t treated the man that way, although I haven’t been happy with him.”
The utility concedes the poles aren’t the most aesthetic sight, and “we’re affecting yards and landscapes,” adds Penzig. “That’s very personal with people.”
Crevoiserat says he initially hired an attorney to fight the project, but “It’s a done deal. it’s going to go in whether you like it or not.”
The lines are expected to be complete in southwest Topeka by the end of the year.