Wind energy projects show benefit for Kansas

Published: Apr. 5, 2017 at 6:54 PM CDT
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The power of wind is never underestimated in Kansas, and that's exactly what Nextera Energy wants to invest in Kingman County.

Wind turbines are expected to boost the local economy and benefit people hundreds of miles away. But their presence has changed the rural landscape.

The Bock family farm has been a staple in Kingman County for more than a century.

"My great grandfather homesteaded here in 1892," Kenny Bock says.

But in just the past year, the landscape changed dramatically.

Bock says he was skeptical at first when Nextera Energy first approached him several years ago, wondering how the turbines would affect farming operations. But the developer, Nextera, helped ease those concerns.

"The power they generate will go to customers of Westar Energy. More than 100,000 people can be served by the wind power that's generated by these facilities," Nextera spokesperson Bryan Garner says.

It's a lot of energy, but Kansas is not short on wind.

"And this is really another crop -- this is harvesting the wind for electricity and for economic benefits. Home grown energy," Garner says.

Garner says the two projects in Pratt and Kingman Counties created hundreds of construction jobs and 35 full-time positions. But the benefits done't end there.

"More than 40 million in payments to local governments over the life of these projects. So, that's helping schools and roads and essential services," Garner says.

Bock says the turbines take some getting used to.

"The cattle seem to be friendly with them," he says.

But, it's worth it, Bock says.

"For the rewards that the county receives from it and the way that we benefit from it, you can adjust," he says.

Nextera operates four other wind farms in western Kansas. The wind energy will primarily serve western Kansas customers, but will also serve wholesale partners, Midwest Energy, as well as the cities of McPherson, Chanute, Iola, Fredonia and Sebetha.

The Kansas Energy Information Network says there are 25 wind farms operation in the state. Another seven are under construction.