Archive for Saturday, December 29, 2012

Largest wind farm in Kansas to begin operation soon

December 29, 2012


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The largest wind farm to be built in Kansas is set to begin operating within the next few days, but future expansion is up in the air because of the pending expiration of a tax credit companies say is critical to making wind energy competitive.

Flint Ridge 2, jointly owned by BP Wind Energy and Sempra U.S. Gas & Power, will have 294 wind turbines on 66,000 acres in parts of Harper, Barber, Kingman and Sumner counties when it fires up before Tuesday. A BP spokesman declined to be more specific about the start date than “the end of the year.”

The Kansas City Star ( reports each of the turbines will have the capacity to generate 1.6 megawatts of electricity, or enough to supply 160,000 homes.

Its owners said the $800 million project was built in Kansas partly because of the business environment, but mostly because of the state’s wind resources, ranked second best in the U.S.

“Kansas is blessed by very strong winds,” said John Graham, the CEO of BP Wind Energy, which is a unit of the BP oil and natural-gas conglomerate.

Despite its abundant wind, Kansas is ranked only ninth in the amount of wind-energy installations. According to the Kansas Energy Information Network, the state has 2,192 megawatts of wind energy capacity, not counting Flint Ridge 2. By comparison, Iowa has 4,536 megawatts of installed capacity, the third highest in the U.S.

The Kansas City, Mo., law firm Polsinelli Shughart conducted a study financed by the wind industry that found wind energy had created 3,484 construction jobs in Kansas, 262 operation and maintenance jobs, and 8,569 indirect and introduced jobs as the investment rippled through the state’s economy.

Landowners have received about $273 million from leasing land for the wind turbines, while community organizations and local and state governments have taken in $208 million.

Despite those economic numbers, wind energy’s future is unclear because of the low price of natural gas — an economical option to generate electricity — and the end of the Production Tax Credit at the end of the month.

Many states, including Kansas and Missouri, have requirements that electric utilities use renewable energy to meet part of their electricity demand. The tax credit, which is used to reduce the price of renewable energy to help make it more competitive, also has provided a boost for the industry.

Graham said it will probably take another six years for the cost of wind turbines to decline enough, and their efficiency to increase enough, to allow wind energy to be competitive without the tax credit.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and the state’s two U.S. senators support renewing the tax credit.

The American Wind Energy Association, a trade group, has proposed a six-year phase-out, but one of the tax credit’s toughest opponents, Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., said that plan doesn’t pass the laugh test.

The wind industry is comprised of multi-billion dollar companies that can stand on their own two feet, he said, adding that he would consider a phase-out only if it quickly moved the industry off the taxpayer dole.

“Without a real phase-out on the table, the only remaining solution is for the wind PTC (tax credit) to expire as scheduled at the end of the year,” he said in a statement.


profound 5 years, 5 months ago

Wonder how well they will stand up to the next dust bowl.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 5 months ago

I wonder how much of the externalized costs of artificially cheap natural gas will fund the next dust bowl.

chootspa 5 years, 5 months ago

The one caused in part by excessive use of fossil fuels?

Mercy 5 years, 5 months ago

Most people don't realize that wind generators are the most expensive means there currently is to produce electricity. So if you wondering why your electric bills, your food cost, and for that matter the cost of most everything else are going up..........

Chris Golledge 5 years, 5 months ago

Inaccurate basis and erroneous conclusion. Wind energy is directly competitive with conventional coal, and far cheaper than coal with CCS.

"Levelized Cost of New Generation Resources in the Annual Energy Outlook 2012"

del888 5 years, 5 months ago

I would like to see your research on this. Seems like digging coal mines, extracting the coal, trucking the coal to the power plant, paying the employees to run the power plant, maintaining the plant, dealing with the polution, etc. would be higher. Once a wind generator is built it seems like it would take very little maintenance. Up-front costs might be higher tho??

Water 5 years, 5 months ago

...and how many people die constructing and installing wind generators? How many people die mining coal?

flloyd 5 years, 5 months ago

More expensive than global warming created by burning fossil fuels? Get a clue, Mercy.

Kirk Larson 5 years, 5 months ago

Fossil fuels are not as cheap as you seem to think. We pay for them in many external ways: health care for asthmatics from particulate emissions, mercury in the food chain from coal plant emissions, loss of millions of gallons of fresh water from fracking, pollution from spills, etc. You don't think climate change is a concern? Think about when we have a Joplin or Superstorm Sandy every couple years.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 5 months ago

A Fracking Surprise in Texas

How ironic: Fracking recently got fracked!

By Jim Hightower

"This brutish technique for extracting natural gas from deep within the Earth, led by such profiteering giants as Exxon Mobil and Halliburton, has rapidly swept across America. Indeed, it has run right over local residents who've had their air and water polluted, their families sickened, and their own economic futures imperiled.

As usual, the frackers pooh-poohed the concerns of these bothersome citizens, insisting that the process is perfectly safe, doing no damage to people or the environment. Their assertion of purity was bolstered several months ago by an academic research report issued by the prestigious Energy Institute at the University of Texas. In a summary of the white papers that made up the report, lead researcher, Charles Groat declared that the scientists found little or no evidence of damage to ground water. So there you have it – an academic acquittal of fracking.

Well, not quite. A watchdog group called Public Accountability Initiative popped up with the revelation that professor Groat held some $1.7 million worth of stock in a gas fracking corporation, served on its board, and was paid $400,000 by it as the report was being assembled. This forced UT to announce that a three-member panel would investigate – a ploy that many critics feared would be a whitewash.

No such luck for Groat, however. Using blunt terms like "distortion," "inappropriately selective," and "very poor judgment," the panel excoriated the professor and the university, concluding that the hoked up report should be withdrawn. The panel's findings were, as the watchdog put it: a "damning critique." So damning that UT has since withdrawn the report, Groat was compelled to retire, and the head of the Energy Institute has resigned.

Now that's a thorough frack job!"

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 5 months ago

Translation-- "Please wear the same ideological straightjacket I do."

Liberty275 5 years, 5 months ago

"So there you have it – an academic acquittal of fracking.

Well, not quite. A watchdog group called Public Accountability"

Why do you believe academia regarding global warming climate change whatever, but believe "Public Accountability" instead regarding fracking?

Ken Lassman 5 years, 5 months ago

Then why did UT respond by withdrawing the report? Seems that even academia believes there was some fire in that smoky report, so kudos to PA for pointing out those problems.

Liberty275 5 years, 5 months ago

Has the global warming poobahs ever taken back a report because another group pointed out inaccuracies?

Ken Lassman 5 years, 5 months ago

In the case of the IPCC, they found some inaccuracies about their report on Himalayan glaciers, and self reported them to the media. As far as I am aware, that's how such institutions should self-regulate. The UT pulled their report because of clear conflict of interests existing between the report authors and the industry they were reporting about, and they pulled the report because of this irregularity in the process.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 5 months ago

People with a rigid ideology accusing others of having a rigid ideology. Funny.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 5 months ago

Is this self-referential, given the firm grasp that the meaninglessly muddled and fictional middle ground has on you?

jhawkinsf 5 years, 5 months ago

Yes! Er, no! Wait, maybe. Yes, definitely maybe.

Andreas Moeller 5 years, 5 months ago

I wish the comments for LJworld would relate to the articles, and not wander off on tangents as much as they do. In the article there is a factual error caused by mis-quoting from the Kansas City Star. The original text is: "The project has 274 wind turbines, each with capacity to generate 1.6 megawatts of electricity or a total of 438 megawatts. That’s enough to supply electricity to 160,000 homes." So all turbines combined in this wind farm power 160,000 homes, not each one as written in the LJworld article. Most European countries dont seem to think wind energy to be a bad idea to cover peak demand, they invest heavily. Probably because its non-polluting and does not run out. The drawback is that its not a steady supply in one single place, so you need a large grid with many windfarms in different locations to catch the wind.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 5 months ago

So, does that mean that you have information that contradicts what he reports? Or is name-calling all you have to offer when your precious ideology gets shot down?

funkdog1 5 years, 5 months ago

I never understand this disdain for wind power. Oil has incredible costs associated with retreiving it and coal is not only extremely bad for the environment, but extremely bad for the people working in that industry. Ask a coal miner if he or she would prefer that their children go into another line of work and I bet a majority of them say that they would. Sure there are costs to getting wind power going, but every energy making enterprise has to start somewhere.

SDTPlant 5 years, 5 months ago

Before commenting on this forum on the issues of the day, in this case wind generated energy, you might be interested in looking less an ass if you were to research the facts first. (Kudos to you RockDoctor.) Seriously.Thanks for your observations on the 1.6 megawatts each generates X/number of units per farm.

Pay a visit to an operating windfarm instead of hanging your ignorance out in front of the rest of, aw, why limit it to Lawrence or for that matter, the rest of KS? Find out the cost per unit, the amount of time it takes to repay the initial cost, the size of the footprint each requires, and, AND, the fact that you can grow corn to make into ethanol right up to each unit, which is about the dumbest thing we've undertaken in awhile. There are lots of them but since we're on the subject of energy, and being the "breadbasket" to the world, lets stick to this one.

Institutional memory of the "dirty thirties" is dwindling rapidly.

LogicMan 5 years, 5 months ago

I'm just wondering how reliable these windmills are. From actual historical data (not predicted), how frequently does one have a major failure?

Ken Lassman 5 years, 5 months ago

From what I know (not much really), it looks like the design for this size of GE wind turbine is for it to last 20 years. I don't know that they've been around long enough to know how long they will actually last. Like your car, a lot depends on how well they are maintained and where they are, no doubt. The good thing is that they are modular in design so various components can be swapped out as needed, with entire turbines replaced as needed, I suppose, which has little overall impact on the wind farm's output. This is in contrast to a coal or nuke fired power plant, where major failure can cost billions and leave a big gap in the power pool for a region.

kawrivercrow 5 years, 5 months ago

Can anybody produce a graph of any commercial windfarm's annual output vs its annual faceplate* capacity?

  • face plate capacity = the theoretical maximum output in a setting where the machine is never out-of-order and the wind is blowing 24/7/52 at optimal operating speed.

kawrivercrow 5 years, 5 months ago

Thanks for your contribution. >sarc<

It was a loaded question, because they don't post such damning data. Neither do commercial solar plants. The commercial PV solar plant in Springerville AZ used to but they stopped posting the output after the embarrassingly disappointing data was often used to bolster arguments against using public monies to fund more PV solar plants. I suspect the paucity of released info on commercial windfarm output is much for the same reasons.

deec 5 years, 5 months ago

I reiterate, google is your friend. Search "windfarm's annual output vs its annual faceplate* capacity?" and get 284,000 results.

deec 5 years, 5 months ago

Google works. A search for your phrase "windfarm's annual output vs its annual faceplate* capacity? " generates 284,000 results. The information is available if you cared to research.

kawrivercrow 5 years, 5 months ago

RE deec: WOW 284,000 hits!! You're just a regular Sherlock Holmes aren't you? Now, I challenge you to sort through those hits and find what I asked for. 1. A GRAPH. 2 ANNUAL output...not cherrypicking a few good days 3. Compared to faceplate rating. 4. Commercial windfarm. (Not that it matters, the DIYers on Mother Jones are equally secretive about their performance outcomes.)

This will eliminate some 283,990+ of those hits. Good luck!

MyName 5 years, 5 months ago

Right, because every other kind of power plant is up and running at max capacity 25 / 7.

At least with wind, you only need to take some of them down at a time for repairs. And you know, way to ignore the fact that this is actually generating jobs for Kansans and producing something useful. Unlike all of the unharnessed hot air that seems to be produced by ignorant blowhards throughout this state.

kawrivercrow 5 years, 5 months ago

In reality, windfarms typically generate less than 10%-15% of the faceplate rating, vs 85%+ for other types of power plants.

Yes, it generates jobs for Kansans, but that is a poor and nondescript gauge of how much we are really getting for our investment. Likewise, vandals create jobs for glaziers and repair crews.

Don't get me wrong...I am a big advocate of getting us off of fossil fuels, but I have had to retire all my youthful fantasies that we can run a complex 21st century society off of wind and solar. We're going to need nuclear, and a lot more of it, unless you want to live with energy rationing and brownouts as a part of life. Until we make that transition, we are not going to get off fossil fuels.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 5 months ago

"In reality, windfarms typically generate less than 10%-15% of the faceplate rating, vs 85%+ for other types of power plants."


kawrivercrow 5 years, 5 months ago

" conventional electricity is much less efficient." This source you referenced is talking about "efficiency" in terms of thermal losses, not percent of capacity output. The two have absolutely nothing in common. The term efficiency is used in a very large number of contexts in the engineering world.

kawrivercrow 5 years, 5 months ago

The article you linked to is talking about thermal loss efficiency, which is completely unrelated to the realized output as compared to the faceplate rating. Thermal losses are an inherent part of any process where thermal energy is converted to mechanical energy., but not very important when evaluating the overall efficiency of a system. Likewise, an electric golf cart has much less thermal loss than a little 2-stroke ICE go-cart of the same size. Yet, the go-cart goes 10 times faster and 10 times farther.

The term 'efficiency' is used in a wide variety of contexts in the mechanical engineering world. The real issue behind sources of intermittent power like wind and solar is that without energy storage and multiple, redundant sources of power generation (which necessitates multiple, redundant layers of expense), we will not be able to run this nation as anything but a crippled, 3rd-world hellhole. This will necessitate reliance on fossil fuels or nuclear fission until nuclear fusion becomes reality (which is probably centuries off).

Ken Lassman 5 years, 5 months ago

kawriv, You are seriously low-balling the capacity factor for Kansas wind farms with your undocumented 10-15% value. Here's a documented source that says that Kansas wind farms have a capacity factor rating of 38.22%:

Kontum1972 5 years, 5 months ago

if BP is in charge.......we are in a pile of POOP......why are we trusting these clowns and doing business with them....British Petroleum Inc SUCKS....boycott them.....

blindrabbit 5 years, 5 months ago

Wonder how the TBaggers Pompeo and Huelskamp feel about this in their backyard; I'm sure they will need the blessing of the Koch-a-Kolas before any public pronouncements. Maybe Huelskamp is a little stressed since 3 of the 4 counties are not in "the Big First" and Pompeo is getting most of the beneifts.

Liberty275 5 years, 5 months ago

We get wind power that costs more, and two corporations keep making money. Life goes on.

MyName 5 years, 5 months ago

Funny how you never hear these lawmakers complain about the tax breaks oil companies get. Or about the tax cuts Koch Industries managed to wrangle out of last year's legislature.

Dignitas 5 years, 5 months ago

Just the dumbest thing on the planet!! Its like pissing in the ocean!! What not use what's worked forever COAL!! I think its time for the separation of the church of the environmentalists and the rest of us!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 5 months ago

"What not use what's worked forever COAL!!"

The answer is easily obtainable if you want it, but clearly you like your ignorance.

Liberty275 5 years, 5 months ago

Your computer is powered by coal. Will you be turning it off to save the planet?

Search your soul. Do you really want to keep destroying the planet or do you want to turn off your computer? Every hour you computer is on, we lose glacial ice, the seas rise and you are turning Kansas into a desert.

You have an important choice to make, Keep on burning more and more coal to power your computer or do mother earth a kindness and shut it off.

Water 5 years, 5 months ago

Most Kansan's still obtain their electricity from coal burning power plants. They'll be here for years to come. And you might thank an environmentalist for pushing legislation to force coal burning power plants to install scrubbers in those stacks so they don't spew particulates causing asthma and create acid rain. Oh and banning the us of DTT so we don't all twitch like meth heads and taking the lead out of gasoline so we don't eat lead tainted beef.

KEITHMILES05 5 years, 5 months ago

So these 294 turbines can power over 47,000,000 homes? Surely the total number throughout the country total in the many thousands and there aren't that many homes to distribute this energy. The computation has to be off.

Also, the reactionary and far, far right wing tea party zealots who are Ks. representatives in the house are a total disgrace not backing this energy efficent industry. Why? No money in it for them to take to back them. Disgraceful bunch of idiots.

streetman 5 years, 5 months ago

1.6 M homes per turbine isn't the only b.s. in this article. One can only roll the eyes when reading of the exaggerated number of jobs created by proponents of these initiatives, apparently to help justify their existence. Sure would be nice if we had journalists rather than "journalists."

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 5 months ago

Yes, it was a mistaken statistic. But that doesn't mean that increasing the use of wind power in generating electricity isn't an extremely important part in weaning ourselves off of our fossil fuel addiction, or that implementing it won't create many thousands of jobs-- it'll certainly create many orders of magnitude more jobs than the pipeline to ship sludge from Canada to Texas so that most of the oil that gets produced can be exported.

Nikonman 5 years, 5 months ago

I'm all for wind and solar power, but if you think your electric bill is going to decrease after the equipment is paid for , think again. The power companies will simply make more money. I think the only way to beat the cost of electricity is to have your own system. Years ago the LJW did an article on the wind generator south of town near US 59 & Highway 56. As I recall, the owner said his yearly cost for electrical power was under $100.00. His biggest concern was that the power company would not pay him the same rate that he had to pay when the wind wasn't blowing. If you can still find it, try reading a magazine called Home Power. Overall they seem to believe that each home should have an energy souce and not depend on a central commercial system.

Bruce Liddel 5 years, 5 months ago

If Wind power was really the cure for everything energy related, the electric utilities would convert all their plants to wind, not just those forced on it by ignorant arrogant tree-hugging politicians.

Recall that those same ignorant short-sighted politicians forced the utilities to switch to coal back in the 1970s, because there was a perceived looming natural gas shortage.

Wind power is not inherently evil, though it is fraught with many disadvantages.

Perhaps chief among those disadvantages is that wind power only works when the wind blows. When does the wind blow? Ask anyone who flies an airplane: the wind blows most often late in the afternoon. When is peak electrical consumption? Ask anyone who works for an electric utility and they will tell you there are two electrical demand peaks: one in the early morning, when the wind rarely blows, and another larger peak in the evening, as the winds are dying down.

So there is the rub. The wind mostly only blows when demand is fully met by baseline generating plants. So making electricity with wind costs the electric utility a lot more than it is worth to the utility. You bet your rates are going up. I can’t blame the utility for the shortsightedness of tree-huggers.

funkdog1 5 years, 5 months ago

Who says wind power is the cure for everything energy related? Why can't it be part of the solution?

Ken Lassman 5 years, 5 months ago

Your so-called "problems" with wind are trotted out so often that it's turned into a rut deep enough for folks like you to not see what's right next to you. Nobody has ever suggested switching off all coal fired plants and nukes in the state and walk away from them, trying to meet all our needs with wind turbines. The idea is to greatly improve our energy use efficiencies in our residential, manufacturing, public and retail sectors, thereby reducing our need for new centralized power production, and replacing retiring power plants with true renewables, which if spread around geographically actually can have very good reliability. I think I read that Kansas generated 9% of its energy from renewables last year and the EIA says that there's no reason why 20% of the US electrical generation can't come from wind by 2030. The economics are there, especially with the Production Tax Credit that needs to be phased out over 6 years, not just shut down.

In contrast, coal fired plant plans are being shelved all across the country due to the poor economic outcomes when they are held accountable for their pollution, and especially due to their contribution to climate change.

So time to climb out of your rut--you are the shortsighted one and the view from up here is just fine, thank you.

Ken Lassman 5 years, 5 months ago

Laus said: "If wind power works so well why is it not working?"

Is this a "have you stopped beating your wife yet?" type of question or something? Go do a little research about how much electricity has been generated by wind in the past year, compare it to the previous year, etc. It's the fastest growing source of new electrical generation out there.

Wind generated electricity goes into the grid, and the grid folds it into the overall mix so that the issue of intermittency is a non-issue, for the same reasons that they can take down Wolf Creek electricity and you still get electricity.

A little over 80,000 workers mine coal in the US and about 19% of those are unionized.

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