A long-standing proposal to build a wind farm in Kiowa County is again on the front burner.
The company proposing the wind farm, Iowa-based Clipper Windpower, is hopeful that utility companies that have passed over the proposal in the past will want to fast track the project now in hopes of helping the tornado-ravaged area get back on its feet.
“For an area so devastated, this is a really attractive source of investment in the county,” said Tom Feiler, regional development manager for Clipper Windpower. “It would bring construction jobs and some permanent operations and maintenance jobs.”
Clipper Windpower has pitched the $200 million project to both Westar Energy and Kansas City Power and Light. Clipper leaders say they hope to hear back from the utility companies by late July or August.
Pushing to help
Originally, Clipper Windpower aimed to see the project come to fruition in the next several years. Now, company leaders are pushing for it to happen in 2008.
The sense of urgency is born out of private corporations’ desire to help rebuilding efforts, Feiler said, adding that he believes utility companies have the same desire.
The Kiowa County project has been proposed to both Westar and Kansas City Power and Light before.
In 2005, Kansas City Power and Light narrowed a list of projects to the one in Kiowa County and one in Spearville. Ultimately, the Spearville plant was selected, according to the company.
In 2004, Westar Energy solicited bids for renewable energy projects and received 17 proposals from 13 companies, including Clipper Windpower. No projects were selected at that time as Westar determined their customers were best served by its continuing to use existing generations facilities, said Karla Olsen, Westar Energy spokeswoman.
This time around, although nothing is for certain yet, there is hope.
“This is a very good project,” Feiler said. “This area is a wonderful wind resource. It’s probably among the best wind resources in Kansas, which makes it one of the best in North America.”
Wind farm basics
To create a wind farm, three things are needed:
A windy place
A market for the wind energy. This is where utility companies come in. They have to agree to purchase the energy produced and sell it to their customers.
Transmission lines to get energy from the wind farm to the customers who need it.
The Kiowa County proposal, which Clipper Windpower calls the “Shooting Star” project, would produce 105 megawatts of power. Since about 300 homes can be powered by 1 megawatt, this plant would provide power for about 31,500 homes.
By Edie Hall
25 June 2007
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