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Westar Energy's CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

In March, we issued $250 million of 30-year First Mortgage Bonds at 4-1/8%, the lowest rate for us in more than 50 years. The low cost of this issue allowed us to retire $70 million of higher cost loan term debt. We have also announced the plan call of $150 million, 6.1% series First Mortgage Bonds.

We plan to utilize our low cost commercial paper to initially fund the call, which is scheduled for next week. In addition to funding CapEx we will continue to evaluate refinancing where make sense consistent with our target long-term capitalization.

Speaking of CapEx, here is an update on some of our larger projects. Plant mostly completed the upgrade of air quality equivalent for the largest unit at Lawrence Energy Center. This portion of the project represents about two-thirds of the total $300 million project cost.

The upgrade for small unit remains on schedule for competition by year end. The installation of an SCR Jeffrey remains on schedule and on budget at $240 million. Our most significant single project underway LaCygne station, while still early in the project if remains on schedule and on budget.

Turning to transmission, we placed our Wichita to Oklahoma 345 kV line into service last month ahead of schedule and more than $20 million below budget. The balance of our transmission investment is progressing according to plan.

We will not include in our CapEx estimate, our Prairie Wind joint venture project is progressing nicely. We require almost half of the rights away and we will start clearly get this month. Line construction is scheduled to begin later this year with the planned completion on late 2014.

In a release last night, we affirmed 2012 earnings guidance of $1.85 to $2 per share. Guidance is conditioned on the typical factors including such things as weather, the economy, COLI proceeds and so far this year, we have received about two-thirds of the full-year estimate and other factors we can’t control all of which we detailed in our supplemental materials.

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