Archive for Sunday, May 7, 2017

Kansas wind power takes off, expected to continue growing

This file photo shows the Elk River Wind Project, Kansas' biggest wind farm, located along U.S. 400 in southeastern Butler County.

This file photo shows the Elk River Wind Project, Kansas' biggest wind farm, located along U.S. 400 in southeastern Butler County.

May 7, 2017


— New wind farms brought online this year or planned for later this year will quadruple the amount of wind generation in Kansas in just six years, placing the state behind only Texas, Oklahoma, California and Iowa in producing wind energy, an analyst group said.

The American Wind Energy Association said in its first-quarter report that Kansas will reach 5,000 megawatts of wind power generation capacity this year. That includes a 200-megawatt Cimarron Bend II wind farm in Clark County and the 280-megawatt Western Plains wind farm in Ford County that came online this year and brought the state to 4,931 megawatts of generation capacity, The Wichita Eagle reported. A 178-megawatt Bloom Wind Farm is under construction south of Dodge City in Ford and Clark counties, and the 400-megawatt Iron Star wind farm near Dodge City is in advanced development and likely will be built this year.

The association said Kansas’ total investment in wind energy now stands at $8.4 billion.

Nationally, wind power construction is expected to remain strong through 2020, according to an analysis for AWEA, which projects the existing 84,000 megawatts of wind power will grow to about 120,000 megawatts in the next four years. Wind is the fastest growing source of new electricity generation in the U.S. but is still only about 6 percent of the total.

“American wind power is getting off to a very strong start in 2017, with the most new capacity since 2009,” said Hannah Hunt, senior analyst of AWEA. “At a national level that’s enough to power 25 million homes every year. And Kansas has emerged as a national leader in the first quarter with 480 megawatts.”

Wind farms are running across central and western Kansas but most are in the state’s southwest because of the reliably strong winds and recently upgraded heavy transmission lines that connect Spearville, near Dodge City, to Wichita.

More wind farm development is likely in the next few years if the Missouri Public Service Commission approves an application by Cleanline Energy of Houston to build a transmission line from Spearville to Indiana. The $7 billion project would carry 4,000 megawatts of power generated in western Kansas to states farther east.

The commission rejected the proposal in 2015 but is expected to rule on the resubmitted plan this month or in early June.

Gov. Sam Brownback has called for 50 percent of Kansas electricity to come from renewable energy, largely wind, by the end of his term.

Kimberly Svaty, policy director for the Wind Coalition, a pro-wind-power group, said that goal is likely either in late 2018 or shortly thereafter.


Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year ago

Oh look. Something Brownback and I agree on. Of course, there needs to be more work on solar panels. Why every roof in Kansas doesn't have solar panels is beyond me. They aren't that expensive anymore. Sure the electric companies would have to adapt, but everyone has to adapt with progress.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year ago

"Although more than 90 percent of photovoltaic panels made today start with polysilicon, there is a newer approach: thin-film solar-cell technology. The thin-film varieties will likely grow in market share over the next decade, because they can be just as efficient as silicon-based solar cells and yet cheaper to manufacture, as they use less energy and material." Oh did you read the whole story? They are working all the time to make it better. Moving forward or the same ole same ole. Life changes.

Pete Kennamore 1 year ago

I do support the use of distributed generation (like solar) but we need a well thought out strategy for the transition. Utilities can't be expected to maintain billions in generation and transmission infrastructure without compensation so that when you hit the switch on a cold and cloudy day the lights come on.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year ago

Agreed. That is the problem that needs to be worked on. There are no good storage systems yet to allow us to be completely off line. Hopefully innovation won't be suppressed, because some people are too much invested in the old ways.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 1 year ago

The only thing about wind generators that concerns me is the number of birds killed by them. As far as I know solar panels do not kill birds. There is no excuse for the large number of birds killed by wind generators. It would seem someone could come up with a fix for this problem, then I might support it.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year ago

There are people working on this. I hope this innovation works, because you could put one on your roof.

Ken Lassman 1 year ago

No doubt a problem, Charles; one that will grow with wind turbine proliferation unless different wind turbine design like Dorothy mentioned catches on. But I think it's worth looking at the other sources of bird mortality to put the numbers in context:

American Bird Conservancy puts the estimated bird kills from wind turbines as high as 600,000.

US Fish and Wildlife puts the numbers killed by vehicles: 89-300 million

Numbers killed by communication towers: 6.8 million

Numbers killed by power lines: 175 million

Numbers of birds killed by windows: 300 million to 1 billion

Numbers killed by cats: 1.3 to 4 billion.

This doesn't mean we shouldn't worry about it, especially because it also affects bats, but on the scale of mortality, it's pretty minor compared to other human created hazards.

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