Kansas wind power takes off, expected to continue growing

File photo.

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — New wind farms brought online this year or planned for later this year will quadruple the amount of wind generation in Kansas in just six years, placing the state behind only Texas, Oklahoma, California and Iowa in producing wind energy, an analyst group said.

The American Wind Energy Association said in its first-quarter report that Kansas will reach 5,000 megawatts of wind power generation capacity this year. That includes a 200-megawatt Cimarron Bend II wind farm in Clark County and the 280-megawatt Western Plains wind farm in Ford County that came on line this year and brought the state to 4,931 megawatts of generation capacity, The Wichita Eagle reported. And a 178-megawatt Bloom Wind Farm is under construction south of Dodge City in Ford and Clark counties and the 400-megawatt Iron Star wind farm near Dodge City is in advanced development and likely will be built this year.

The association said Kansas’ total investment in wind energy now stands at $8.4 billion.

Nationally, wind power construction is expected to remain strong through 2020, according to an analysis for AWEA, which projects the existing 84,000 megawatts of wind power will grow to about 120,000 megawatts in the next four years. Wind is the fastest growing source of new electricity generation in the U.S. but is still only about 6 percent of the total.

“American wind power is getting off to a very strong start in 2017, with the most new capacity since 2009,” said Hannah Hunt, senior analyst of AWEA. “At a national level that’s enough to power 25 million homes every year. And Kansas has emerged as a national leader in the first quarter with 480 megawatts.”

Wind farms are running across central and western Kansas but most are in the state’s southwest because of the reliably strong winds and recently upgraded heavy transmission lines that connect Spearville, near Dodge City, to Wichita.

More wind farm development is likely in the next few years if the Missouri Public Service Commission approves an application by Cleanline Energy of Houston to build a transmission line from Spearville to Indiana. The $7 billion project would carry 4,000 megawatts of power generated in western Kansas to states farther east.

The commission rejected the proposal in 2015 but is expected to rule on the resubmitted plan this month or in early June.

Gov. Sam Brownback has called for 50 percent of Kansas electricity to come from renewable energy, largely wind, by the end of his term.

Kimberly Svaty, policy director for the Wind Coalition, a pro-wind-power group, said that goal is likely either in late 2018 or shortly thereafter.

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