Westar apologizes for lack of communication on new poles

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Leaders of Westar Energy are apologizing to northeast Wichita residents that are concerned about the new transmission poles.

"From Westar Energy, we apologize that we didn't communicate as good as we should. We thought we did, but we didn't. Now, we know, and we're going to change the way we communicate on future projects. And, I thank the community for letting us know," said Donald Sherman, vice president of community relations and strategic partnerships for Westar Energy.

The City of Wichita and Westar held a meeting last week to talk to community members concerned about the electrical poles.

"We wanted to address the concerns in the community. Concerns included a loss of property value, improper compensation, decrease neighborhood esthetics, and more," said Brandon Johnson, Wichita council member. "Westar listened to the concerns and are ready to address them. This is outside of the purview of what Westar is expected to do." 

Residents in Wichita's District 1 raised concerns about the large, metal poles going up around Hillside, between Mossman and 17th streets.

"It's not fair. Basically, I just think they bamboozled everyone and caught everyone off guard and they misrepresented. I'm glad they come out here and (apologize). But don't say I'm sorry and just say I'm going to give you a few more dollars and that's going to compensate everything. That doesn't work that way," said Janet Green, resident.

Today, another meeting was held in front of 11th Street and Minnesota with Johnson and Sherman leading the news conference.

Sherman said Westar will consider smaller poles on a second transmission line that will be from Mossman to Wichita State University. He also had a message to homeowners and tenants.

"If you're a homeowner that wants to stay in the house, there will be additional compensation. If you're a homeowner that wants to move from the house, we will buy your house. If you're a tenant that lives in that house, we want to talk to you. We want to talk about additional compensation for you living in a house with a big pole in front of it," said Sherman.

If you would like to communicate concerns with Westar, call (316) 299-7456.