September 12, 2006

Spearville wind farm fully operational

SPEARVILLE, Kan. – The state’s much-anticipated third wind farm is fully operational.

Officials from Kansas City Power & Light on Tuesday announced that all 67 towers of the 100.5-megawatt Spearville Wind Energy Facility in southwest Kansas were turning.

The facility will produce enough energy to supply about 33,000 homes. Much of it will be routed to the Kansas City area.

“Putting these wind turbines on the power grid is an important milestone in our comprehensive plan to meet the growing energy needs of the Kansas City area,” Kansas City Power & Light chief executive Bill Downey said in a news release.

Construction began in April on the wind farm, spread over 5,000 acres north of Dodge City. It was scheduled for completion Oct. 1 at a cost of about $166 million, but favorable weather helped contractors finish nearly three weeks early.

“I commend KCP&L for their site selection of Spearville out of the heart of the Flint Hills,” Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said, “and for their leadership in developing this clean and renewable resource.”

Some of the facility’s output already is spoken for. KCP&L announced in April that it had signed telecommunications provider Sprint Nextel Corp. as the wind farm’s first customer, providing electricity to its campus in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park.

The Spearville facility is the smallest of the state’s three wind farms, behind the 150-megawatt Elk River Wind Power Project in Butler County and the 110-megawatt Gray County Wind Farm near Montezuma. But the Spearville plant is the first large-scale wind farm in the state to be owned and operated by a regulated electric utility.

“This wind facility, combined with several innovative demand response and energy efficiency programs and investments in new technologies to substantially reduce air emissions … is part of our balanced approach to power generation that will provide significant environmental and economic benefits,” Downey said.

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