Kansas-based utility Westar Energy has announced it is building a new project that will add nearly 300 MW more of wind power to its renewable energy portfolio.
Westar has teamed up with developer Infinity Wind Power to construct the 280 MW Western Plains Wind Farm, located in Ford County, Kan. The utility says the project will bring Westar's renewable energy total to more than 1.5 GW once it is completed in early 2017.
Furthermore, Westar has selected wind turbines from Siemens, which will assemble key components of the machines at the manufacturer's plant in Hutchinson, Kan.
"In today's power market, wind continues to represent a very affordable option for us, which allows us to provide energy to our customers at a lower cost," says Mark Ruelle, Westar Energy president and CEO. "Equally important for our state, wind energy creates Kansas jobs in construction, manufacturing and ongoing operations of the wind farms."
"The opportunity to continue to work with Westar – and most importantly, meet our commitment to the local landowners – is a testament to Westar's ongoing support of wind energy production," adds Matt Riley, Infinity Wind Power CEO. "We are excited to work with the Westar team to bring economic benefits of wind energy development to this community."
Specifically, Westar says, this announcement will stimulate economic development in Ford County through land lease royalties paid to local landowners and payments to local and county governments, expected to be about $75 million during the first 20 years of operation. Additionally, the project is expected to create more than 200 construction jobs, followed by about three dozen permanent jobs, and involve $435 million in capital investment.
"I applaud Westar's leadership in creating jobs in Kansas," comments Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. "I'm particularly pleased with the direct investment in Kansas by a Kansas company that will reap benefits for the future of our state."