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Seeds of Wind Farming Continue to Sprout in Kansas
Smoky Hills Wind Farm

Will homegrown electricity be as good as homegrown tomatoes in Kansas City? A proposed commercial wind farm in a small rural Kansas county 70 miles southwest of Kansas City is riding on the answer.

Tradewinds Energy, a Lenexa-based wind power company, has put on the table a bid to Kansas City Power & Light to provide electricity generated from 50 to 70 wind generators in southern Anderson County, Kansas.

The proposal is connected to the utilities’ request a little more than a month ago for another 300 megawatts of electrical power generated by wind within two years.

Although most wind farms in Kansas have been located in the windier parts of central and western Kansas, experts say the east central Kansas location has a couple advantages -- it’s close to a major market for electricity and it’s next to an established transmission network.

Tradewinds has offered to sell electricity to KCP&L from its proposed Deer Creek wind farm slated to be built on a 17,000-acre area north of the tiny town of Lone Elm, Kan.

 Until Tradewinds approached the county about five years, there wasn’t much idea that the largely agricultural Anderson County would ever be a site for a commercial wind farm, commented Tom Young, the county’s Planning and Zoning Director.

 According to Young, company studies have shown a wind farm would be feasible He said another site on the northwestern edge of the county and into Coffey County, home of the state’s only nuclear power plant, also have some potential.

 But to issue the permits for a commercial wind farm, the rules governing it must be established. Young said a group of county officials have been drafting a set of new rules for wind farms to adhere to.

 “Not particularly for this company but for any company that wants to apply for a special use permit,” said Young who believes the new regulations could be approved in a month or two.

 The county looked at two separate zoning codes -- one from a western Kansas county with a wind farm and from a more populous eastern U.S. county with a set of rules he said.

“We like aspects of both models and we want something that will fit Anderson County,” he said. The company has said landowners could receive $8,000-$10,000 annually for lease agreements and would hire 15 people to maintain the generators. The company estimates building the wind farm would mean 150 temporary jobs.

Because there would be no property tax on the generators, the company and county could discuss an agreement where the county is paid according to the amount of energy sold.

 “KCP&L is committed to renewable energy sources, such as wind energy, as part of our total energy portfolio,” said Mike Chesser, chairman and CEO of KCP&L in a written statement issued in December. “We believe a progressive and balanced approach to power generation is the best strategy, and today’s announcement demonstrates our commitment to a more sustainable, cleaner energy future for our region.”

Utilities will look at the responses for more wind-powered electricity during the next three months, according to Clara Miller, a utility spokeswoman. “If we decide to move forward with any to them, we hope to make announcements about that sometime in the second quarter,” added Miller.

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