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Westar Energy's CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

We returned to the commercial paper market in January, the first time in over a decade, which reduces our cost of short-term debt. As far as additional financing needs for the foreseeable future in light of current interest rates look for us to issue first mortgage bonds.

Now, let me turn to our updated CapEx forecast. As has been the case for the last several years, our plans call for utility plans and investment of almost $2.5 billion over the next three years. Two-thirds of this year’s plan and investment is to satisfy environmental regulations and support the Southwest Power Pool’s efforts to ensure reliable transmission.

We are investing an air quality project at our Lawrence and Jeffrey Energy Centers in our jointly-owned La Cygne station that Great Plains manages. I will only touch briefly on each of those major projects, as not much has changed with all projects running at or below budget and no change in our expected completion dates.

The $300 million air quality upgrade at Lawrence is slated for completion by year-end and well below its original cost estimate. Construction of the SCR at Jeffrey continue as planned, with equipment to be in service by the end of 2014. Its cost estimate remains at $240 million. The most significant single project underway is at La Cygne, our share is estimated to be just over $600 million, with the project target for completion by June 2015.

Turning to transmission, we expect to complete our Wichita to Oklahoma line this spring, a couple of months early and well on our budget at a cost of $80 million. In addition, the SPP has identified significant transmission improvements required in the region. We estimate our investment will be about $0.5 billion over the next three years. This year, we will invest about $140 million in transmission infrastructure improvements.

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