A new crop in Kansas

Creating an epicenter of wind

State leaders as high up as the governor envision a day when Kansas will export wind power just as it does wheat. However, one major hurdle stands in the way: building the transmission lines to move the power.

Windy ambition

Some see Kansas' true potential in wind energy as an exporter of electricity. But before that can happen, hundreds of millions of dollars will have to be spent to build the power lines to carry the energy.

Trying to catch the wind

State poised to capitalize on renewable energy

In the wheatfields of north-central Kansas stand what officials as high up as the governor are hoping will be the state‚Äôs next great crop: wind turbines. Poised as the third best state in the country for wind power and on the cusp of a renewable energy revolution, Kansas has the potential to be at the epicenter of the wind industry, state leaders say.


Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 11 months ago

The wind turbines look elegant. They have sensors and computer chips so that they are turned off until the wind reaches a certain speed. Before this level of tech savvy this would not have possible.

50YearResident 8 years, 11 months ago

Funny, we never heard anything about these when the coal plants were being discussed and voted on.

Bassetlover 8 years, 11 months ago

The first time we encountered the turbines was a complete surprise. We were headed west on I-70 just this side of Salina, I believe. OMG, they were a breathtaking sight to behold. Something like a ballet performance on the rolling hills. We were awestruck! I'm surprised there aren't more of these if far western KS since the winds out there are legendary.

Alia Ahmed 8 years, 11 months ago


I think you should be more worried about T. Boone PIckens than Obama when it comes to your resources. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_25/b4089040017753_page_2.htm

Charlie Bannister 8 years, 11 months ago

There is nothing wrong with getting some power from wind or other renewables. Just understand that it will never replace the need for more oil, gas, and nuclear. There is more oil, gas, and coal in this country than most people realize, enough to last for eons. As you see global politics influencing fuel prices again, just remember that we need to drill and build nuclear plants and coal plants for our own energy. You will never get away from the need to do that folks. Never.

Jeff Kilgore 8 years, 11 months ago

kosmo513, As my dad used to say, "never" is a long time. I'm just as confident that within the next 25 to 50 years, oil, gas, and nuclear will diminish with the development of green energy. Oh, and by the way, it was US banks, namely Goldman Sachs that had the largest influence on trading the price of oil through the roof.

Music_Girl 8 years, 11 months ago

50 year, I agree. Just one minor example of the bias in the media and how much it is dominated by big business. They no longer care about fair and informed reporting only what is profitable to report.

Tom McCune 8 years, 11 months ago

Please understand that the large wind machines now generate about 2 megawatts when running at maximum capacity. You would need about 270 of them to equal the generating plant in Lawrence.

westdot 8 years, 11 months ago

I love green power as much as the next tree hugging Homo erectious ,thought I was going to say homo sexual didn't you Ha!!! The truth is the wind in Kansas blows. But it blows at night, not at 3pm when it is 102 degrees and utilities are doing everything possible to meet demand. What most Homo erectious don't know is that you need a constant source of power, able to pick up or cut generation with the change in demand and Frequency 60HZ, The HZ part is a different lesson alone. The truth is if you don't have a gas, oil, or coal fired unit that can pick up load wheen needed and respond to the HZ then the chance for a brownout , or blackout is eminient.

nuf - said westdot, if you don't believe me ask your PHD in class or check the NERC, or SPP websites. And I forgot to mention that they want to build 765kv power lines as big around as truck tires, not for Kansas but to export to Texas hard to believe? check it out for yourself

Westar has a program where you can pay $1.00 more per kwh and they will sell you wind generation.

I think all Kansas should sign up and raise hell that we want to keep the wind generation power for Kansas customers and not export it to Texas

KU Power hog

Mark Kostner 8 years, 10 months ago

Kansas has an opportunity to become a power power. It does have a lot of wind to develop, plus I think it should look at developing solar power in western Kansas, and I think the existing coal plants and natural gas plants should be expanded as well. Because of terrorism and security concerns, I don't know if nuclear should be in the mix. I was never a big fan of Wolf Creek. Otherwise, a balance of all the energy sources would work well.

lounger 8 years, 10 months ago

This is great! Completely the right track here!! Kansas has a lot to offer in Wind power. We need to keep this mentality going.....

JSpizias 8 years, 3 months ago

Several commenters have already made the point that wind and other "renewables" such as ethanol can make only minor contributions to our overall energy supply. See what Patzek and Pimentel had to say in the following paper (page 75): Thermodynamics of energy production from biomass T.W. Patzek and David Pimentel (2006) http://www.oilcrisis.com/patzek/ThermodynamicsEnergyFromBiomass.pdf.

"We want to be very clear: solar cells, wind turbines, and biomass-for-energy plantations can never replace even a small fraction of the highly reliable, 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year, nuclear, fossil, and hydroelectric power stations. Claims to the contrary are popular, but irresponsible. To the extent that we live in a hydrocarbon-limited world, generate too much CO2, and major hydropower opportunities have been exhausted worldwide, new nuclear power stations must be considered. For example, environmentalists are fighting a 13-stage dam on the Nu River, the last untamed large river in Asia, which flows through a remote, pristine region in western China (Chinese Project Pits Environmentalists Against Development Plans, Jim Yardley, The New York Times, Jan. 3, 2005

See below what Nordhaus and Shellenberger have to say in a recent issue of Foreign Policy. We currently lack the technology to replace current sources of energy and power. There has been more than enough of "Magical Climate Thinking". It is time to get real. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/01/13/the_end_of_magical_climate_thinking

puddleglum 8 years, 3 months ago


actually, you are completely wrong about the time. the wind almost always dies down at night, and is most calm at 4 am. The wind typically picks up in the afternoon (sun heats the earth's crust-warm air masses rise and move toward low pressure areas-we call this simply: wind) and the peak wind-strength time zone is between 3:30-5:30pm thankyou.

roadwarrior 7 years, 2 months ago

We dont have to go to western kansas to produce solar energy power. Douglas County roofs, on houses filling old hay fields, are an untapped resource.

Lawrence Morgan 6 years, 4 months ago

This is a great feature article, with photographs and comments. You have done a lot of work producing this article and series of photographs, and it is very enlightening.

As roadwarrier says, I do think Douglas County has lots of rooftops to produce solar energy. In many parts of the country there are roofs over parking lots, for example, with solar energy power coming from above the rooftops. Davis, California, has had this kind of rooftop solar energy for a number of years, in this case, to heat up its city pool.

There should be as much solar energy as possible on the new library, to make a showcase of what can be done. But I haven't seen mention of the solar energy portion. Am I missing something?

Western Kansas would be ideal for wind power.

When will Westar start paying back for the cost of energy which is put back into the system, from the energy from each house that has solar panels, as, for example, PG&E does in Northern California?

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