Topeka, Kan. — Westar Energy Inc. announced an agreement that will add nearly 300 megawatts to its growing wind energy portfolio. Westar in collaboration with Infinity Wind Power will construct the Western Plains Wind Farm, a 280-megawatt wind farm in Ford County, Kan., which will bring Westar’s renewable energy total to more than 1,500 megawatts.
Westar selected turbines from Siemens, key components of which will be assembled in the Siemens facility in Hutchinson, Kan. This Siemens facility employs more than 400 people. In a separate agreement anticipated before year end, Westar also plans to pursue another 200 megawatts of wind energy, with an option to own 50 percent of those additional megawatts.
“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,” said Mark Ruelle, Westar Energy president and chief executive officer. “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,” said 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, today’s announcement will stimulate economic development in Ford County, Kan., through land lease royalties paid to local landowners and payments to local and county government, expected to be about $75 million during the first 20 years of operation. Additionally, this project creates more than 200 construction jobs, followed by about three dozen permanent jobs, and involving $435 million capital investment.
“I applaud Westar’s leadership in creating jobs in Kansas,” said Kansas Governor 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.”
Westar Energy has been growing its Kansas wind generation program for nearly a decade, making Kansas one of the top states in the nation for wind energy production. With the two additional wind farms anticipated to be operational by early 2017, wind generation will power more than 400,000 homes and businesses served by Westar.