Category Archives: Area News

Patients For Profit: Kaiser Health News

KFF’s Kaiser Health News Investigates Private Equity’s Stealth Takeover of Health Care in the United States

 

A new investigation by KFF’s Kaiser Health News (KHN) lays bare the sizeable efforts by private equity investors to take over large and lucrative parts of the U.S health care system in recent years. KHN found that private equity firms have invested nearly $1 trillion through thousands of deals to acquire hospitals and specialized medical practices during the last decade alone.

The deals, many of them unnoticed by federal regulators, typically result in a ratcheting up of providers’ pursuit of profits – and higher prices for patients, lawsuits, and complaints about quality of care.

 

The investments range widely and include the acquisitions of physician practices, dental clinic management companies, companies that treat autism, drug addiction and other behavioral health care, and ancillary services such as diagnostic and urine testing labs and software for medical billing. Through other deals, companies tied to private equity have come to dominate specialized medical services such as dermatology, gastroenterology, and anesthesiology in certain markets around the country. All of it has come on top of better-publicized takeovers of hospital emergency room staffing firms as well as the buying up of entire rural hospital systems.

Federal regulators have been almost blind to the incursion. KHN found that more than 90 percent of private equity takeovers or investments fell below the $100 million threshold that triggers an antitrust review by the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department.

 

Whistleblowers and injured patients, however, have turned to the courts to press allegations of misconduct or other improper business dealings. KHN found that companies owned or managed by private equity have agreed to pay fines of more than $500 million since 2014 to settle at least 34 lawsuits filed under the False Claims Act. Most of the time, the private equity owners have avoided liability.

 

The latest story, published today in USA Today, is part of a broader ongoing series, “Patients for Profit: How Private Equity Hijacked Health Care” in which KHN has examined a wide range of private equity’s forays into the health care system. They include the marketing of America’s top-selling abortion pill, the establishment of “obstetric emergency departments” at some hospitals, investments in the booming hospice care industry and even takeovers of funeral homes and cemeteries. The series includes a video primer, “How Private Equity Is Investing in Health Care”.

 

KHN collaborates with many editorial partners, and media outlets can publish these and other KHN stories at no charge. KHN also will publish the stories on khn.org and promote them through its social media platforms. KHN journalists also are available for interviews about their stories. News organizations interested in working with KHN should contact the news service at [email protected], and those interested in helping to expand and improve health journalism around the country should contact KFF at [email protected].

 

About KFF and KHN

KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis, Polling and Survey Research and Social Impact Media, KHN is one of the four major operating programs at KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed nonprofit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.

 

CONTACT:

Chris Lee | (202) 654-1403 | [email protected]


Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues,

KFF is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.

kff.org  |  khn.org

Community Foundation of Southeast Kansas Newsletter

Logo

Read the November edition of Circle Conversations

Today marks the start of the second year for the Rita J. Bicknell Women’s Health Fund’s quarterly newsletter, Circle Conversations. We hope you enjoy this fifth edition, which contains the latest information about Women’s Health Fund grants for 2022!

You can read this new edition of Circle Conversations by clicking the button below or visiting our Newsletters page.

Read Now

P.S. As the newsletter points out, CFSEK is offering $51,000 in matching funds to help grow 36 local organizations’ endowments, and the Nightingale Endowment of the Rita J. Bicknell Women’s Health Fund is one of them! Visit SoutheastKansas.org/match-day to get the latest updates as they become available!

Match Day 2022 is scheduled for National #GivingTuesday, November 29!

Rita Bicknell Women’s Health Fund Grants Friends of Mapleton

Women’s Health and Wellbeing Receives Support from the Rita J. Bicknell Women’s Health Fund

The Rita J. Bicknell Women’s Health Fund (WHF) is furthering its support of women’s health
initiatives in the Southeast Kansas area by awarding a total of $50,992 in grants in 2022.

TheWomen’s Giving Circle awarded $43,312 to five SEK nonprofit organizations and the Circle of
Friends Giving Circle awarded four nonprofit organizations $7,680. All projects receiving funding
are committed to carrying on the WHF mission “To improve the health and wellbeing of
women by supporting education, increasing awareness, and sharing quality of life
opportunities to benefit all women.”


In 2007, the establishment of the Rita J. Bicknell Women’s Giving Circle at the CommunityFoundation of Southeast Kansas (CFSEK) was a philanthropic beginning for women helping
women in our area. Today the Rita J. Bicknell Women’s Health Fund is made up of the Women’s Giving Circle, the Circle of Friends, and the Nightingale Endowment.

Circle memberships support granting to area organizations.

The Nightingale Endowment supports the Irene Ransom
Bradley School of Nursing Simulation Hospital at Pittsburg State University. Since inception, the
giving circles have generously granted over $350,000 to improve women’s health in our
community.


The Women’s Health Fund and the Community Foundation of Southeast Kansas would like to
congratulate the following 2022 grant recipients:


Women’s Giving Circle


Community Health Center of SEK, Inc.: Scope it Out – Reducing the Risk of Cervical Cancer

Fostering Connections: Teen Girl Shopping Spree

Kansas Angels Among Us Inc.: Financial Assistance for Cancer Patients.

Labette Health Foundation: OB/GYN Patient Care Improvement Project

Mount Carmel Foundation: Better Care at the Bedside: Ultrasound Probes Needed to Care for
Expectant Mothers & Babies.

 

 


Circle of Friends Giving Circle

Friends of Mapleton Association: Emergency Preparedness
Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters: Here We Grow

Labette County USD 506 Meadowview Elementary School: Girls Day in Aviation at Greenbush

Safehouse Crisis Center, Inc.: A New Bed for a New Beginning


The Women’s Health Fund is proud to be able to contribute to the success of these
organizations and their projects in support of women’s health and wellbeing in the SEK region.

The Community Foundation of Southeast Kansas is pleased to be the host agency for the Rita J.
Bicknell Women’s Health Fund. CFSEK is a public non-profit foundation that serves the region
by helping donors fulfill their charitable giving goals in ways that benefit the common good and
improve the quality of life. The Fort Scott Area Community Foundation and the Girard Area
Community Foundation are CFSEK affiliates. If you would like to learn more about the CFSEK or
the Women’s Giving Circles, we invite you to visit SoutheastKansas.org or call 620-231-8897.

Grant Awards from the Rita J. Bicknell Women’s Health Fund

The Rita J. Bicknell Women’s Health Fund (WHF) is furthering its support of women’s health
initiatives in the Southeast Kansas area by awarding a total of $50,992 in grants in 2022. The
Women’s Giving Circle awarded $43,312 to five SEK nonprofit organizations and the Circle of
Friends Giving Circle awarded four nonprofit organizations $7,680. All projects receiving funding
are committed to carrying on the WHF mission “To improve the health and wellbeing of
women by supporting education, increasing awareness, and sharing quality of life
opportunities to benefit all women.”

In 2007, the establishment of the Rita J. Bicknell Women’s Giving Circle at the Community
Foundation of Southeast Kansas (CFSEK) was a philanthropic beginning for women helping
women in our area. Today the Rita J. Bicknell Women’s Health Fund is made up of the Women’s
Giving Circle, the Circle of Friends, and the Nightingale Endowment. Circle memberships
support granting to area organizations. The Nightingale Endowment supports the Irene Ransom
Bradley School of Nursing Simulation Hospital at Pittsburg State University. Since inception, the
giving circles have generously granted over $350,000 to improve women’s health in our
community.

The Women’s Health Fund and the Community Foundation of Southeast Kansas would like to
congratulate the following 2022 grant recipients:

Women’s Giving Circle

Community Health Center of SEK, Inc.: Scope it Out – Reducing the Risk of Cervical Cancer

Fostering Connections: Teen Girl Shopping Spree

Kansas Angels Among Us Inc.: Financial Assistance for Cancer Patients.

Labette Health Foundation: OB/GYN Patient Care Improvement Project

Mount Carmel Foundation: Better Care at the Bedside: Ultrasound Probes Needed to Care for
Expectant Mothers & Babies.

Circle of Friends Giving Circle

Friends of Mapleton Association: Emergency Preparedness
Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters: Here We Grow

Labette County USD 506 Meadowview Elementary School: Girls Day in Aviation at Greenbush

Safehouse Crisis Center, Inc.: A New Bed for a New Beginning

The Women’s Health Fund is proud to be able to contribute to the success of these
organizations and their projects in support of women’s health and wellbeing in the SEK region.

The Community Foundation of Southeast Kansas is pleased to be the host agency for the Rita J.
Bicknell Women’s Health Fund. CFSEK is a public non-profit foundation that serves the region
by helping donors fulfill their charitable giving goals in ways that benefit the common good and
improve the quality of life. The Fort Scott Area Community Foundation and the Girard Area
Community Foundation are CFSEK affiliates. If you would like to learn more about the CFSEK or
the Women’s Giving Circles, we invite you to visit SoutheastKansas.org or call 620-231-8897.

K-7 pavement repair project to start at Girard into Bourbon County

 

In early November, the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) expects to begin a pavement repair project on a 500-foot section of K-7 at Girard. K-7 will be closed to traffic north of K-47. A state route detour will be signed on K-47, U.S. 69 and K-39 (see map).

 

Project activity includes repairs to the base drains and replacing the water lines and pavement. KDOT awarded the construction contract of $388,686 to Mission Construction, St. Paul. Weather permitting, the work should be completed by mid-December.

 

Persons with questions may contact KDOT Pittsburg Area Engineer Kyler Farmer at (620) 308-7617, or Public Affairs Manager Priscilla Petersen, (620) 902-6433. Check KDOT’s updated traveler information website, www.Kandrive.org, for more highway condition and construction details.

 

Lansing Inmate Renfro Captured

Minimum-custody Inmate Joshua W. Renfro Who Walked Away from Lansing Correctional Facility Apprehended

~LCF Walkaway Apprehended Without Incident~

TOPEKA –

Minimum-custody resident Joshua W. Renfro has been apprehended.

Renfro was taken into custody Monday night, October 24, 2022, by law enforcement officials in Leavenworth County. He was arrested on the KDOC escape warrant without incident.

Renfro had been placed on escape status after he walked away from the minimum-security unit at the Lansing Correctional Facility (LCF) on October 24, 2022.

No other details are being released as the investigation is ongoing.

 The Lansing Correctional Facility, formerly the Kansas State Penitentiary, opened in 1867. Serving only males, the facility maintains maximum and medium units totaling 1,920 beds and a 512-bed minimum security unit. 

Survey to begin on K-52

Survey to begin on K-52

 

The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) plans to start a survey at the Little Sugar Creek drainage culvert on K-52 in Linn County the week of Oct. 17. The culvert is approximately 1 mile west of the K-7/K-52 junction (see map).

 

The survey area of 2,500 feet is based on the existing alignment. Survey crew members will gather information for a future culvert replacement project. KDOT expects the survey to be complete by Dec. 30.

 

Activities include the use of survey instruments on the ground to determine locations of existing features within the corridor. A member of the survey crew will contact property owners or tenants for permission to enter private property. John Lilak of Bartlett & West will manage the survey for KDOT. Persons with questions may contact KDOT Public Affairs Manager Priscilla Petersen, (620) 902-6433.

Nevada Medical Clinic to become part of Nevada Regional Medical Center


Jason Anglin, CEO of NRMC, announces that after many months of discussions and planning that Nevada
Medical Clinic is to become a part of Nevada Regional Medical Center.

At the August meeting, the Nevada Regional Medical Center board of directors voted to approve the
Nevada Medical Clinic becoming a hospital clinic and to consolidate operations with the clinic and its
physicians. The decision was made after months of research and detailed analysis.

In early 2022, Drs Jennifer Conley and Heather Russell, of the Nevada Medical Clinic approached hospital
administration with their intent to change their business model. They explained that they had explored
options for their future including: closing the clinic and finding new positions elsewhere, acquisition of
the clinic by an outside health system, and acquisition by Nevada Regional Medical Center.

“The medical delivery system and financial structure have changed significantly over the years. Now,
government payments are extremely unfavorable for independent physicians and dramatic increases in
medical liability and health insurance premiums have made continued private ownership of Nevada
Medical Clinic no longer financially viable,” said Dr. Conley.

Nationwide, the percentage of physicianowned practices has steadily declined as more doctors are
seeking employment. “More than half of all physicians in the United States are now employed,” said
Holly Bush, Chief Quality Officer at NRMC. “And that number continues to rise every year.”

Those physicians who were recruited to Nevada Medical Clinic in the past fourteen years left after
three to five years for employment models,” said Conley. A large number of local physicians retired
from their practices between 1999 and 2015. This has caused the workforce to decrease from as many
as twelve physicians to the current five. There is no real prospect for adding more physicians without a
change in structure.

Presented with this dilemma, hospital administrators worked with outside consultants to research the
risk associated with losing the neighboring clinic and to develop a financial analysis to determine the
feasibility of saving the practice.

“What we found in our assessment was that the loss of the Nevada Medical Clinic and its physicians
would be detrimental to healthcare in our community. Strategically, working together with Nevada
Medical Clinic is critical to NRMC. We had to find a way to keep these services here,” said Anglin.
“Acquisition by an outside health system would require the physicians maintain outpatientonly
practices with cessation of obstetric services. Maintaining OB services is essential for NRMC to continue
to qualify for the disproportionate share hospital program (DSH) and for the pharmacy 340B program.
Together those programs provide over $5 million to NRMC every year. A loss of these programs
jeopardizes NRMC survival. Working together with Nevada Medical Clinic physicians allows NRMC to
continue to maintain these essential programs.

From a community service perspective, OB is vital to our community as all of the nearby hospitals have
closed their units. Without OB in Nevada, our residents would have to travel a significant distance to
deliver their babies. It is time to recruit new obstetric physicians for NRMC, but this process is lengthy,
challenging, and very expensive. We cannot let the doctors we have here go, stated Anglin. The clinic
would also provide NRMC with added space for recruitment of other physicians.

Currently, the longterm care facilities in Nevada rely on the clinic physicians for medical care and
medical directorships. Loss of this coverage could be detrimental to these, already struggling, entities.

The financial pro forma that was developed and presented to the board showed that addition of the
clinic and employment of its physicians and staff is possible for NRMC, even under their current state of
financial strain.

“We will be able to designate the Nevada Medical Clinic as a Hospital Based Rural Health Clinic like our
other campuses,” said Dana White, Chief Financial Officer at Nevada Regional Medical Center. “That
designation is what makes the payment system from Medicare and Medicaid more favorable for a
clinic.

“Despite our financial position, we are compelled to make this transition with the Nevada Medical Clinic
as we believe it is vital for the future of both organizations,” said Bob Beaver, Chairman of the NRMC
board of directors. “Given the state of today’s healthcare system, this should help sustain great doctors
in our community for many more years and give us the space to recruit more.”

Anglin stated, “We intend to move forward with as little disruption to the patients as possible. We found
that Nevada Medical Clinic was a lean organization that operates very efficiently, which is what made
this possible. It is our intention to continue with what works.”

Nevada Regional Medical Center and Nevada Medical Clinic are targeting for the transition to occur
soon.

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10 Warning Signs that Your Loved One is Considering Suicide

 

Sept. 11, 2022 (IOLA, Kan.) – Throughout September, Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center is observing Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Nearly everyone will feel the ripple effects of suicide in their lifetime. Those left behind experience grief, sorry and, often, regret. But, repeatedly, experiences show that suicide is preventable when caught in time to help. To build awareness about suicide prevention, it’s essential to know the warning signs and risk factors.

10 Warning Signs

  1. Depression: Frequently, suicide is accompanied by long-lasting sadness, despair and a feeling of hopelessness. People who seem to withdraw from family and friends or isolate themselves from usual social activities may be exhibiting signs they are thinking about ending their lives.
  2. Untreated mental health condition: It’s common for people with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders or mood disorders (along with other mental health conditions) to experience thoughts of suicide. It’s even more likely that people with undiagnosed or untreated issues may consider suicide.
  3. Substance use: Any kind of substance abuse can increase the likelihood that a person may consider ending his/her life. When a person’s substance use increases or escalates in severity, it’s a strong warning sign that something is amiss and needs attention.
  4. Reckless behavior: It’s a warning sign that someone may be having thoughts of ending their life when they begin engaging in reckless behavior or taking unnecessary and excessive risks, such as participating in unsafe sex or driving while under the influence. It’s especially worrisome when someone who normally acts with caution and care acts with reckless abandon without caring about the consequences.
  5. Statements about suicide: People who say they want to die usually mean it. Anyone who says they are considering killing themselves is definitely at risk. Suicidal people may say they feel hopeless or they have no reason to live. Searching online for suicide methods or buying a gun can also indicate someone is a serious threat to themselves.
  6. Final preparations: Making a will or setting up life insurance policies is responsible adulting. However, when someone sets about to making final preparations it may, also, be a sign they are planning to hurt themselves. Other indicators of final preparations might include: giving away prized belongings and informing others about their life insurance policies, will, burial arrangements or who will get their assets. Another sign can be making it a point to clean their house or garage, being sure to not leave any loose ends to burden their loved ones.
  7. Unusual display of emotion/affection: A person who suddenly makes it a point to share their love and affection for a friend or family member may be showing a sign that they are considering suicide. Many times, people who are thinking of ending their lives will unexpectedly visit family members and friends and deliver an exaggerated goodbye when they see someone they care about. These behaviors can be signs they are in severe distress.
  8. Trauma/life crisis: Many people who think about committing suicide have a history of serious childhood trauma; physical, emotional or sexual abuse; neglect; or bullying in their lives. It’s also common for those on the verge of ending their lives to have recently experienced some other circumstances that makes them especially vulnerable: the loss of a loved one; unemployment; money crisis; or a relationship break up.
  9. Chronic/fatal health condition: Anytime someone is diagnosed with a severe health condition, it can impact their mental health. If they are in constant pain or discomfort, it increases the chances they’ve considered suicide. Many people worry about how their health condition will continue to affect them, fearing they will be/are a burden to their loved ones.
  10. Sudden calm or cheer: It’s relatively common for someone contemplating suicide to seem suddenly calm, at peace and, maybe, in good cheer. But it can be a warning sign of suicide that someone who is usually anxious, depressed or upset is relaxed and good with the world. It’s extremely possible they are no longer at war with themselves and have settled on their decision to end their life.

There is not just one single warning sign that can help prevent suicide. But, by being aware and making connections with others, it’s possible to notice the signs that are very clear indicators that someone is not ok.

 

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

If someone you know is exhibiting warning signs of ending their life, encourage them to reach out for help. One resource is the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline3, formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, is now an easy-to-remember 24/7 resource for reaching trained crisis counselors who can help with suicide, mental health and substance use-related crises. (988 replaces a longer and harder to remember 10-digit phone number.) Much like calling 911 in an emergency, people in crisis or those having thoughts of suicide may call or text 988 for immediate assistance during anytime of the day or night.

About Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center

The mission of the Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center is to provide, advocate and coordinate quality mental health care, services and programs for people in its service area. Our vision is to improve the qualify of life in southeast Kansas. We offer services and programs in the following counties: Allen, Anderson, Bourbon, Linn, Neosho and Woodson. Our core services include outpatient psychiatry, therapy, consultation, chemical abuse counseling, case management, educational and skill-building groups, specialty training, physical healthcare coordination and 24/7 crisis intervention services. For more information, visit www.sekmhc.org.

 

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Grants For Women Wellbeing Applications Available

The Women’s Health Fund (WHF) giving circles, the Women’s Giving Circle (WGC) and the Circle of Friends Giving Circle (COF), are pleased to make available their annual grant opportunity to southeast Kansas nonprofits in support of the WHF mission to improve the health and wellbeing of women by supporting education, increasing awareness and sharing quality of life opportunities to benefit all women.
Please consider this mission statement as you complete your grant application.

There are two grant categories available from the Rita J. Bicknell Women’s Health Funds.
Grant requests greater than $2,000 are funded from the Women’s Giving Circle.
Grant requests $2,000 or less are funded from the Circle of Friends Giving Circle.

In 2021, the WGC awarded $36,678 to 8 SEK non-profit recipients. Awards averaged $4,585 and ranged from $810 to $12,665. The COF awarded $7,100 to 4 recipients. Awards averaged $1,775 and ranged from $1,500 to $2,000. Projects in Bourbon, Cherokee, Crawford, and Labette counties received funding from the two giving circles.

Project Expenses Typically NOT Funded:
Ongoing operating expenses/salaries/stipends/personnel costs

Mileage reimbursement or travel costs

Building /construction projects/capital improvements

Religious activities unless the project serves the general public regardless of religious affiliation

Political activities

Visit https://southeastkansas.org/news/blog/whf-application-2022/ for more information about the WHF grant process or apply now.

Contact [email protected]southeastkansas.org with any questions as you prepare your application.

We look forward to receiving your grant proposal.

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Be the One to Make a Difference

Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center Observes September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

#BeThe1To

 

Sept. 1, 2022 (IOLA, Kan.) – Suicide doesn’t discriminate. Suicide doesn’t care whether you’re young or old. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that suicide is the 12th leading cause of death overall in the United States with an average of 130 suicides daily. All month mental health advocates, prevention organizations, survivors, allies and community members, including Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center, are observing September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

Organizations and communities will create awareness with tools and resources to empower people to make a difference and save lives. Special attention comes on World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10) and during National Suicide Prevention Week (September 4-10) to share resources and promote suicide prevention awareness.

Many activities are planned throughout the region during the month of September. SEK Mental Health Center will be joining the effort by distributing awareness ribbons and bookmarks to area schools and local libraries, along with an active social media campaign.

How can Southeast Kansas Participate in other ways?

  • Use #BeThe1To1: Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center encourages community members to be the one to make a difference. Students, teachers, neighbors, coworkers, parents, friends – we can all be the one to listen, persuade and help. Use #BeThe1To in social media posts about suicide prevention awareness and tag SEK Mental Health Center. Also, feel free to post wearing your suicide prevention ribbon or the colors teal and purple in support of awareness.
  • Connect: Reach out to loved ones to show them you care. Check in through a text or a quick phone call just to say, “How are you?” or “Thinking of you!”
  • Know the signs and have the conversations: Learn the signs of mental health crisis or suicide indicators. It can feel awkward, but it’s essential to engage with those you see in distress. Learn more about the signs of and risk factors for suicide2.

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline3, formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, is now an easy-to-remember 24/7 resource for reaching trained crisis counselors who can help with suicide, mental health and substance use-related crises. (988 replaces a longer and harder to remember 10-digit phone number.) Much like calling 911 in an emergency, people in crisis or those having thoughts of suicide may call or text 988 for immediate assistance during anytime of the day or night.

About Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center

The mission of the Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center is to provide, advocate and coordinate quality mental health care, services and programs for people in its service area. Our vision is to improve the qualify of life in southeast Kansas. We offer services and programs in the following counties: Allen, Anderson, Bourbon, Linn, Neosho and Woodson. Our core services include outpatient psychiatry, therapy, consultation, chemical abuse counseling, case management, educational and skill-building groups, specialty training, physical healthcare coordination and 24/7 crisis intervention services. For more information, visit www.sekmhc.org.

 

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Energy Transmission Line To Pass Through Bourbon County

KCC grants NextEra public utility status to build a 94-mile Wolf
Creek to Blackberry transmission line, but with added conditions

TOPEKA – In a special business meeting August 29, the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) granted a certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) to NextEra Energy Transmission Southwest, LLC, enabling the company to do business as a transmission only public utility in the State. The company filed an application for the certificate in February in order to construct a 94-mile, 345 kV transmission line from Wolf Creek to the Blackberry Substation, less than one mile over the state line in Southwest Missouri. The proposed line runs through five Kansas counties: Coffey, Anderson, Allen, Bourbon and Crawford. The final route has not yet been approved by the Commission.

The Wolf Creek to Blackberry project was identified by the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) as a necessary economic project to increase the transmission capability and relieve congestion from western Kansas east to SPP load centers. SPP is a regional transmission organization (RTO) mandated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to ensure reliable supplies of power, adequate transmission infrastructure, and competitive wholesale prices on behalf of its members. SPP serves 17 states, including Kansas.

In issuing today’s order, Commissioners agreed the project provides benefits for Kansans.

“Based on the testimony received, the Commission finds that the Transmission Project will have a beneficial effect on customers by lowering overall energy costs, removing inefficiency, relieving transmission congestion and improving the reliability of the transmission system.”

Justin Grady, KCC Chief of Revenue Requirements, Cost of Service and Finance testified that Kansas customers could see an increase of $0.04 to $0.05 per month to cover the cost of the line beginning in 2025, but when the benefits of the project are considered, they should see a reduction of $4 to $7 for every dollar spent on the line over its 40 year operating life.

Grady also addressed misconceptions about the financing and purpose of the transmission line. He said the cost of the line will be allocated equally across the entire 14 state SPP region based on transmission customer load share. Kansas is paying 16.5% of the cost.

As for concerns that the line will be shipping nuclear or wind power out of Kansas to states outside of the SPP footprint, Grady said there is no evidence to support that.

While granting the certificate, the Commission imposed additional requirements and conditions on NextEra designed to protect ratepayers and to explore ways to minimize the impact of landowners along the proposed route. One of the conditions calls for NextEra to evaluate the feasibility of double circuiting the line with an existing 25-mile Evergy 161 kV transmission line and report back before a line siting application can be filed with the Commission. A double circuit line has two independent circuits on the same structure eliminating the need for an additional easement and reduces structure costs.

“The public interest of Kansans, especially including the landowners that would be affected along this portion of the preliminary route of the line, will not be served if this issue is not comprehensively reviewed by all parties before NEET Southwest files its line siting request with the Commission. To reiterate, failure to earnestly and completely review the double circuit option may result in a proposed route that the Commission cannot approve as reasonable, which the Commission wishes to avoid.”

Today’s order can be viewed here.

A recording of today’s Business Meeting featuring Commissioner comments on the order, is available on the KCC YouTube channel.