T. Boone Pickens is looking for a new home for almost 700 giant wind turbines, and Kansas apparently is on his list.
That’s great news for the state, which is in a far better position to take advantage of Pickens’ dilemma than it was a few months ago.
Pickens said earlier this week that he had put on hold his plans to build the world’s largest wind farm in the Texas Panhandle. His decision was prompted by a combination of factors, including the nation’s financial turmoil, declining natural gas prices and the lack of electric transmission lines in the wind farm’s proposed location.
Now, Pickens says, he will look at building three or four smaller wind farms. The possible locations on the table mentioned were Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas and Alberta, Canada.
To even be on that list is a significant step for Kansas, a step made possible in large part by renewable energy advances that have occurred under Gov. Mark Parkinson. The renewal energy legislation that was part of a package deal intended to move forward the construction of a coal-fired power plant in western Kansas also set the stage to attract new wind power projects and the businesses that support the wind power industry.
Last month, Parkinson also was able to help barter a deal to move forward a major electricity transmission line. As Parkinson and Pickens both know, it does no good to erect wind generators to produce electricity if you have no way to move that electricity to the customers who will use it. Published reports indicated that the 687 wind generators Pickens has ordered will be delivered starting in 2011, but the transmission lines are unlikely to reach his Panhandle site until 2013.
That’s roughly the same time a 200-mile ultra-high-voltage line is expected to be completed from near Dodge City to Wichita. Perhaps that schedule can be stepped up to help accommodate one of Pickens’ smaller wind farms, or maybe some other Kansas location would be prepared to host a Pickens project even sooner.
The fact that Kansas is on Pickens’ radar screen as a potential wind farm site is an indication that Kansas is “in the game” when it comes to wind power projects and the manufacturers that support those projects. That’s a major positive step for the state.