I promised a story about what the city council could do to protect the city from what many Troost Corridor residents are dealing with right now with KCP&L...but I am going to delay that for a bit following last night's festivities.
Last night, and tonight, KCP&L held a meeting for area residents to talk about (sell them on) the idea of a substation and 40 foot power lines along Troost. Complete with charts, graphs, renderings, clowns, baloon artists and fake tatoo stickers.
Until actually looking at the data, I didn't even question the need for more power along Troost...but one chart has me really befuddled. This chart isn't the exact same chart that they showed at the meeting last night. Last nights was broader, focusing on the entire "Troost Corridor" (20th - 47th, State Line to Main according to KCPL). Both show pretty much the same line trending upward at a sharper, and more sustained incline than any other 5 or 10 year period on the chart. When I pressed their people about it, they stated that the future increases were based on projected increases in the population in the midtown area.
That didn't sound terribly right to me, because the midtown housing stock pretty much is what it is at this point. While I don't think that energy consumption is going down, I don't think the midtown population is going up much either. So I pressed again. Then they said one of the Substations that serves my area (at 18th and Cherry) is getting overloaded due to all the Crossroads/Downtown development. The other, at 47th and Troost, is getting heavily used by the Plaza and Stowers expansion.
A quick search on the MARC Website showed some interesting numbers. If you look at the MARC site, the map of the Census Tracts (basically, smaller census sub areas that are smaller than zip codes) show the area that is considered the "Troost Corridor". For easy viewing, I'll tell you that the following tracts fall in this area: 41-53, and 63-71.
Another handy chart (go to the workbook "population by tract") tells me the population changes over time for these tracts, and the projections for them through 2030. What's interesting, is if you add the Troost Corridor tracts together, you'll find that these areas had a population of 3,877 in 1970. The number was down to 2,857 in 2000. And projected to be 2,670 in 2010, and a whopping 2,726 in 2030. That's right, in 2030, MARC projects my "growing population" to be over 25% less that it was in 1970, and a net decline of 131 people from 2000 to 2030.
Now I don't argue that our energy needs are probably growing, but they're growing at a MUCH slower rate than the rest of the metro.
Meanwhile, I quizzed them several times on the 32nd Terrace Location vs moving it either North or South along Troost to more industrial areas. The answer I kept getting was that it would be cheaper for them to put it in the middle of the line between the 18th and Cherry Substation and the 47th Street Substation.
"Cheaper" seems like a common theme here. It appears that it is cheaper to put the new substation next to residential, and on one of the two blocks along Troost that is most likely to become a retail destination in the immediate future. Midtown land cost is less than Crossroads or Plaza land cost. And we wouldn't want to muck up those areas with ugly substations anyway - even though those areas are really the ones sucking up all the power.
Revitalizing neighborhoods and Kansas City can't be done for "cheaper". If I wanted cheaper, I wouldn't have bought a 100 year old home that suffered wear and tear by being used as apartments for 1/2 of its life. While I respect that KCP&L wants to do things for "cheaper', in order to keep costs down for its customers, it shouldn't do so at the expense of destroying revitalization in the heart of the city.
Pay a little more. Be a little inconvenient. And put this substation in an abandoned or industrial part of the city (I outlined several locations yesterday). Cheaper for KCP&L would prove very costly to the people who living, working and revitalizing this area.