News Column

Kansas Wind Markets Pick up Speed

August 9, 2013
wind farm
Wind farm (file photo)

A new government report shows Kansas is among the largest and fastest growing wind energy markets in the country. And southwest Kansas is part of that mix.

According to The Associated Press, the Energy Department reported Tuesday that Kansas ranks third among all U.S. states in the percentage of in-state electricity generation from wind power. The state installed 1,441 megawatts of new wind power capacity in 2012, bringing its total capacity to 2,713 MW.

The department said in a news release that Kansas now has enough capacity to generate more than 20 percent of its electricity from wind energy.

The agency's annual Wind Technologies Market Report says that in 2012 wind energy became the top source of new U.S. electricity generation for the first time.

In southwest Kansas, several wind farms are already in place or under development. The Buffalo Dunes Wind Project, planned for Grant, Finney and Haskell counties, is being developed by TradeWinds, which has had a strategic cooperation agreement with Enel Green Power, a subsidiary of Italy-based utility Enel, and U.S.-based GE Capital since 2006, according to Windpower Monthly.

Ralph Goodnight, community development director for Kearny County, said Arion Energy of Denver has been approaching landowners there about leasing land for a potential wind farm. He said the county doesn't currently have any wind farms and he thinks it's largely because transmission lines don't run that far west.

In Scott County, District 1 Commissioner Jim Minnix said two companies are "looking very seriously" at Scott County for possible wind farms, as well, and that each firm thinks it has a strong plan.

"But each one of them is working on a few details (they have) yet to iron out," Minnix said. "Both hope to be under construction, or farther along, by the end of this year. We'd be happy to have both firms do their construction here in the county."

"I don't think they're quite at a point where they want to make a major announcement," he added.

Should they be built, the wind farms would be the first in Scott County.

"There's one just adjacent to Scott County in the east-central portion of Wichita County. That's the closest to us at this time," Minnix said.

He said having the wind farms there would be an economic boost.

"It would be good for the farmers that are hosting the towers; it would be a little economic development in our community while they're under construction," he said, adding it would also mean jobs during construction and positions for maintenance personnel afterward.

The county would also receive Payment in Lieu of Taxes, which are federal payments to local governments that help offset losses in property taxes due to nontaxable federal lands within their boundaries, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior website.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


(c)2013 The Garden City Telegram (Garden City, Kan.)

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Source: Copyright Garden City Telegram, The (KS) 2013

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