Archive for Sunday, November 24, 2002

Wind farms eye Western Kansas

November 24, 2002


— Two companies are considering projects to generate power from the prairie winds in western Kansas.

Wichita County contacted 16 wind-farm developers last year in hopes of boosting the economy, said Sharla Kenzel, the county's economic development director.

Two companies, Renewable Energy Systems North America and enXco, responded and may build 200- to 300-foot-tall wind turbines.

"Western Kansas is the Saudi Arabia of wind," said Bud Pickle, project consultant with enXco. "Of course, Kansas has great wind everywhere."

About 50 people attended a wind-farm discussion Thursday during the Wichita County Economic Development meeting.

Pickle and Tom Fair, development director with RES North America of Florida, spoke about their companies' potential to bring a wind farm to the county, as well as how the process works.

RES has built 25 wind farms since 1995 and is looking at developing a wind farm near Marienthal.

The enXco company has built more than 4,000 turbines in the United States and is working on projects worldwide.

Pickle said his company had leased 12,000 acres on the western side of the county, the opposite side from the RES site.

"I don't see why we can't be friendly competitors," Pickle said. "He'll be on one side, and I'll be on the other."

He said enXco wanted to build a project in the next three to five years.

The project would be bigger than Kansas' first commercial wind farm at Montezuma, producing more than 300 megawatts. Gray County Wind Farm has 170 turbines that produce 110 megawatts of electricity.

RES could begin construction of a wind farm as soon as next year, bringing temporary workers to the area to build the turbines and provide a a dozen full-time local jobs to maintain the structures.

Robert Johnson, senior manager of engineering and energy services with Sunflower Electric Power Cooperative, said the Hays-based cooperative was interested in buying some of the power.

Kansas is a center of activity for wind farms, with companies looking at land throughout the state.

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