Archive for Friday, March 20, 2009

Wind farm industry in Kansas growing, 2 farms open

March 20, 2009


— Two new wind farms in Kansas will make the state one of the few in the country with more than 1,000 megawatts of electricity generated every year by wind power.

Government and industry officials say the state is beginning to take advantage of its windy conditions, but much work remains to make wind energy a profitable industry in Kansas.

Flat Ridge Wind Farm recently began operating in Nashville, about 60 miles southwest of Wichita, and will generate about 100 megawatts of power a year. Central Plains Wind Farm in Marienthal, just east of Leoti, has begun partial operation and will eventually produce 99 megawatts a year.

Combined with existing wind farms, Kansas can now produce 1,012 megawatts of commercial, wind-generated electricity. The new plants, both owned by Westar Energy Inc., means Kansas ranks eighth among states in the amount of commercial wind power produced, still far behind Texas’ 7,407 megawatts.

The development comes amid an ongoing political dispute over energy policy between Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Sebelius has said the state’s energy future lies in wind and other renewable resources.

But GOP legislative leaders are attempting to override her administration’s decision to block two coal-fired power plants in southwest Kansas. House and Senate negotiators are working on the final version of a bill to do that and planned to meet today.

Kansas has enough wind to become a player in the wind energy market. The U.S. Department of Energy ranks Kansas as the third windiest state, after North Dakota and Texas.

But economic development experts say making wind power a profitable business requires building a large manufacturing and research base to supply the wind farms.

Kansas has started taking steps to meet that goal by reworking incentives to lure wind energy companies.

Wind farms alone are not particularly profitable. Flat Ridge cost $196 million to build, or about $2 million per megawatt, Simmons said. The 275 specialized construction workers mostly came from out of state, and only nine people are required to operate it.

The main economic benefit of wind farms is manufacturing the turbine parts, which currently come mostly from overseas.


RoeDapple 9 years, 3 months ago

Witnesses over 1/4 mile away said large pieces of windmill were thrown past their home.....

akuna 9 years, 3 months ago

Quick note: that's a windmill in Denmark not Kansas.

akuna 9 years, 3 months ago

Marion that is a good point. What happen to a windmill in a tornado? Is windmill debris more dangerous than other debris - trees, houses, cars, ...? Things I never thought about before.

cowboy 9 years, 3 months ago

just came back from arizona and saw a bunch of wind farms in the Okla / texas panhandle , they are pretty stunning , very large

RoeDapple 9 years, 3 months ago

These blades in excess of 100' length. A tornado could do billions of dollars in damage in much less time than in traditional power plants

RoeDapple 9 years, 3 months ago

beo, this really has nothing to do with fear. Unless it is fear of massive expenditures on a system that cannot offset its cost with what the expected production could be. Combine that with the possibility of weather related destruction and already high utility bills. This shade of green doesn't look good with my carpeting.

And I have moved on to 2009. You seem to be hanging onto the past. What are you afraid of?

Chris Ogle 9 years, 3 months ago

The Odds: I read the other day that we are 400,000 times more likely to be struck by lightning than winning the big lotto...... Learning this, I still buy lottery tickets..... but wear rubber boots whenever outside... rain or shine. By the way, I have lived in Kansas all my life and never seen a tornado. Am I lucky or what???

RoeDapple 9 years, 3 months ago

Actually I believe hydrogen is the greenest alternative, although it to is not ready to replace oil or coal. It can be produced with other green energies, (solar, wind, water currents or tides) It converts back to water in the "burning" process and is probably the cleanest alternative. I don't know that as an absolute, but it makes the most sense to me. My stand on coal is stay with it until we have an alternative that can replace it, not just supplement it. There are massive amounts of coal yet to be mined so power companies are in no hurry to do so. Oil on the other hand might be what forces the auto industry to lead the way on hydrogen. Heavy batteries and crops for fuel are not remedies for oil depletion. I believe we aren't that far apart on this, we're just on different roads.

RoeDapple 9 years, 3 months ago

xbusguy, You are lucky, but don't start counting those lottery winnings just yet.....


RedwoodCoast 9 years, 3 months ago

I think viable energy sources, in the end, will be determined more by economics than by any other factor. People seem to be pursuing a continuation of current energy sources, yet at the same time, more sustainable energy sources are in development. At some point, the cost per kilowatt/hour for our old standbys will exceed the price of newer energies. Who knows how long this will go on if economics is the only determinant, but I think we're seeing a noticeable social movement towards greater energy efficiency. With greater efficiency of energy use, we might see the orthodox energy sources' lifespans increase. But eventually, we will find other energy sources, which will likely be more efficient and less costly than what came before.

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