Westar Energy, Inc. today announced that it has signed final agreements with developers to build three wind farms in Kansas totaling approximately 300 megawatts (MW). The agreements represent more than a half-billion dollar commitment to wind power in the state and will make Westar’s wind energy program the largest in Kansas. It is also nationally among the largest wind programs for a utility of its size.
“We are excited to launch the state’s largest wind energy program. Our three wind farm sites are among the best in Kansas, and our customers will be well served by these generation resources,” Bill Moore, Westar Energy president and chief executive officer, said.
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said: “Kansas is ready to be a leader in renewable energy. These wind farms are an investment in our rural economy and will help our state secure a clean energy future. Kansans want more wind energy; this is an important step toward achieving that goal.”
All three sites are expected to be producing energy by the end of 2008, allowing customers to benefit from lower prices attributable to a federal tax credit aimed at encouraging development of renewable energy. The wind farms will provide a boost to the local economies. Developers estimate about 375 jobs will be created among the three wind farms during construction and about 25 jobs when they are in operation. In addition, land owners will receive royalty payments exceeding $1 million per year for providing land for the turbines.
“Our wind farms will bring needed economic development to rural areas of Kansas,” Moore said. “As a homegrown utility, we look forward to these three wind farms serving our customers with this attractive native resource – wind.
“Wind energy will nicely complement our existing fleet of generation resources. Westar customers and shareholders benefit from diversity among our fleet of power plants as fuel and other costs become increasingly unpredictable.”
When selecting sites, Westar examined factors including cost, transmission access, performance expectations, community acceptance and environmental impact. The sites were selected from 23 submitted in a competitive selection process.
“These wind farms are a good value for our customers and have excellent production potential, support of area residents and limited impact on the environment,” Moore said. “We dismissed projects that would have had adverse effects on wildlife or had other detrimental impacts on the environment and projects that had raised concern among residents surrounding them. We were able to secure sites that met these high criteria and promised strong performance at a reasonable cost.”
The wind farms are at three sites in Kansas:
- The contract for Central Plains Wind Farm, a 99 MW project in Wichita County between Leoti and Scott City, was signed Dec. 31. RES America Developments, Inc. is the developer and constructor of the wind farm. The wind farm will consist of 33 Vestas V90 3 MW turbines. Westar will own the generation at this location, which is expected to begin producing electricity in late 2008.
- Westar Energy will purchase under contract 96 MW from the Meridian Way Wind Farm in Cloud County. Horizon Wind Energy, a company owned by Energias de Portugal, developed, owns and will operate the 201 MW wind farm. The wind farm will comprise 67 Vestas V90 3 MW turbines; 32 of the turbines will produce energy for Westar. Westar Energy’s contract with Horizon was signed in late September with a stipulation providing for Kansas Corporation Commission approval of Westar’s request for predetermination of rate treatment, which was received Dec. 27. The 96 MW that Westar Energy will purchase is scheduled to be available in late 2008.
- Westar Energy and Flat Ridge Wind Energy, LLC signed the contract for the Flat Ridge Wind Farm, a proposed 100 MW wind-powered electric generating project to be located in Barber County, on Dec. 28. BP Alternative Energy North America Inc. is developing the project. Construction of the wind farm, made up of 40 Clipper C96 2.5 MW turbines, is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2008. At completion, Westar will own 50 MW of the generation and will purchase the remaining 50 MW under a power purchase agreement.