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Potential for new transmission line makes wind farm more likely  

Credit:  By Gale Rose, The Pratt Tribune, www.pratttribune.com 23 November 2010 ~~

Pratt, Kan. – With the possibility of high voltage transmission lines coming through Pratt County, the possibility of BP Wind Energy developing a wind farm in the county remains positive.

“We’re cautiously optimistic,” said Mark Wengierski, BP Wind Energy land development manager. “We’re waiting on transmission lines.”

The development of a wind farm in Pratt County could result in additional income benefits for landowners through land leasing for the wind towers, income in the community from the on-site construction workers plus the employees who have to maintain the facility.

Land leasing for a future wind farm has already resulted in 50,000 leased acres in the county with BP wanting to lease more for future construction.

“We’re looking at optimizing our land position. We’re trying to make sure we’re well positioned,” Wengierski said. “We’re still talking to land owners to pick up leases.”

Response to BP leasing has been positive in the county and support continues to be good.

“We couldn’t do it without community support,” Wengierski said.

Two transmission line companies, Prairie Wind and ITC Great Plains, are working on building a high voltage power line stretching from Spearville to Medicine Lodge to Wichita.

If that line development is successful it will provide a convenient method to transport electricity from the county and that could help promote wind farm development like BP Wind Energy wants to development.

The success of the transmission lines is essential to the development of a wind farm because the transmission lines would move the electricity to the east to the customers.

Besides having transmission lines to move the electricity, another key factor in developing a wind farm is locating the farm in an area with a good wind resource and southwest and south central Kansas fill the bill.

“Kansas is a great windy state. We’re bullish on the wind in south central Kansas,” Wengierski said. “We’re absolutely interested.”

The four fundamental renewable energies BP looks at in Kansas are wind, solar, bio fuels and carbon capture. Developing a wind farm in Pratt County fits with the company desires to develop alternative energy.

“It’s very complementary to our portfolio,” Wengierski said.

The state has helped the developing interest in wind energy with the Legislative passage of the renewable energy standard that allows the purchase of energy from renewable energy sources. Together, the state, wind farm and transmission line development can help reduce the countries dependency on foreign oil.

“We believe in energy security through energy diversity,” Wengierski said. “We need to look at diverse amounts of energy resources from, wind, solar, bio fuels and carbon capture.”

Other projects could develop in the area as well. Including the Pratt County acres, BP has leased over 250,000 acres in anticipation of wind farm development in Pratt and Kiowa Counties.

Currently BP has the Flat Ridge facility in Barber County and with 100 percent of the power sold to Westar Energy. That facility has proven very successful and is exceeding expectations, Wengierski said.

Source:  By Gale Rose, The Pratt Tribune, www.pratttribune.com 23 November 2010

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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