A new wind power agreement between Kansas State University and Westar Energy will provide approximately 50% of the energy needs for the university’s main Manhattan, Kan., campus.
The agreement is part of Westar Energy’s new Renewables Direct program, which provides large customers access to renewable energy at set long-term prices. The program involves the 300 MW Soldier Creek Wind Energy Center, located in Nemaha County, Kan.
The wind farm is expected to come online in 2020. Washburn University, located in Topeka, Kan., also recently announced an agreement with Westar Energy for the project.
“We are excited about this innovative approach to use renewable energy to help Kansas State University become more sustainable and save energy costs,” states Cindy Bontrager, the university’s vice president for administration and finance. “Sustainability planning is one of the key components of our K-State 2025 plan to become a top 50 public research university by 2025. As a public land-grant university, K-State has a role to address the sustainability challenges of our time, and this agreement is a step in the right direction.”
As part of a 20-year agreement, the wind farm will provide Kansas State University with 14 MW of power. The anticipated savings for the university will be approximately $180,000 to $200,000 annually. The savings will come from a reduction in the retail energy cost adjustment, also known as fuel factor costs, according to Gary Weishaar, the university’s manager of energy and controls.
“We are constantly evaluating the potential of providing renewable energy for the university,” Weishaar says. “We feel this program is a good way to not only positively affect K-State financially, but to also take advantage of one of our most abundant natural resources.”
Under the Renewables Direct program, the price of electricity provided from the Soldier Creek Wind Energy Center will be fixed for 20 years at 1.8 cents/kWh and will replace the fuel factor cost, which is currently 2.3 cents/kWh. The university’s average annual consumption for the Manhattan campus for the last five years has been 113 million kWh/year. The university also will receive renewable energy credits associated with the agreement.