Western Plains Wind Farm in full operation, helping Westar Energy cut its emissions

Source: By Hutchinson News • Posted: Friday, March 3, 2017

Westar Energy’s new Western Plains Wind Farm near Spearville began full operation on Wednesday, enabling the state’s largest electric utility to boast it can now provide more than half the annual electricity needs of its customers without carbon emissions.

Infinity Wind developed the 280-megawatt Western Plains wind farm in Ford County, built by Mortenson Construction, using Siemens Wind turbines manufactured in Hutchinson. Westar will own and operate the facility.

“By carefully selecting the locations for our wind farms, we’ve cost-effectively grown our commitment to renewable energy,” John Bridson, senior vice president, generation and marketing, said. “In February, on a day with particularly windy conditions, there was one hour where we met 90 percent of our customers’ electricity needs with renewable energy.”

Besides wind, the Wolf Creek Nuclear Generating Station is providing about 20 percent of Westar’s emission-less power.

Over the next 20 years of operation, the farm will make about $75 million in land lease and in-lieu of payments to local and county government and provide about three dozen permanent jobs to the community, according to a Westar news release.

Western Plains is the third wind farm owned by Westar Energy, in addition to eight wind farms and a landfill gas generator that Westar buys energy from under long-term power contracts.

Later this spring, Westar will add a 1-MW community solar installation in South Hutchinson to its renewable commitment, allowing renewable sources to meet about a third the annual electricity needs of the homes, businesses and organizations served by Westar.