Two wind farms dedicated in western Kansas
By Kylene Scott
A windy day was only appropriate for the dedication of two wind farms in western Kansas, the Ironwood (near Spearville) and the Cimarron II (in Gray County), at a ceremony Oct. 25 in Dodge City, Kan. Officials from Duke Energy, Kansas City Power and Light, Sumitomo Corporation and Westar Energy, along with Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback were on hand for the dedication ceremony and subsequent open houses.
The two large-scale wind projects in western Kansas, Cimarron II in Gray County and Ironwood in Ford County, recently came online. Cimarron II is 131 megawatts and produces enough electricity to power nearly 40,000 homes, while the Ironwood, at 168 megawatts, can power approximately 50,000 homes. Sumitomo Corporation of America bought a 50 percent stake in the two projects in early 2012. Duke Energy Renewables operates and maintains Cimarron II and Ironwood, and Sumitomo is actively involved in management.
Chuck Whitlock, interim president, commercial businesses, Duke Energy, praised the project sponsors for their support and help making the projects a success.
"These two projects that we're celebrating today were the result of two strong companies' commitment as partners to make this a success," Whitlock said. "Today is an important milestone for Duke Energy Renewables. These two projects represent our first steps into Kansas--expanding our renewable footprint into 11 states."
Whitlock said with both projects now online, customers of both Westar Energy and Kansas City Power and Light will have expanded use of clean, reliable and affordable energy all generated in the heartland of America. Renewable energy also helps the communities where the projects are located.
"One thing that we know for sure is that renewable energy creates jobs in communities and it is an important part of economic growth to help stimulate local economies and to reduce emissions," Whitlock said. "These construction teams spent lots of time here in these communities. That's economic development important to the local communities, to the state of Kansas and to America and we're proud to be part of that."
Takeshi Murata, senior vice president/general manager of Machinery and Power Group, Sumitomo Corporation, was pleased with and congratulated the partners in their success on the project.
"You may not understand why Sumitomo, a Japanese company, is investing in this wind project in the state of Kansas. The answer is very simple. We have a long history of taking care of the environment throughout our 400 (year) history of Sumitomo," Murata said. "We have pursued industrial development that co-exists with local communities and the environment. In other words, our commitment to the environment is part of our corporate heritage."
According to Murata, Sumitomo is a truly global company with quite diverse activities that include mining, oil and gas--sectors generally not considered as environmental friendly, he said.
"We understand you need to prevent pollution and set environmental goals and targets," Murata said.
A northwest Kansas native, James Ludwig, executive vice president of public affairs and consumer services, Westar Energy, spent a lot of time in southwest Kansas. Sparked by the area's rich history, Ludwig believes the wind farms should one day spark the future generations.
"There's another way to light or spark the fire of a child's imagination and that's to take them to these wind turbines and also have them observe a highway of new power lines that Westar is building to deliver a new kind of prosperity from this region to customers in Kansas and hopefully someday in other states as well," Ludwig said.
He believes the state is in a type of crossroads, and one that will help the area survive and prosper.
"I think this is another type of crossroads--another type of prosperity that will sustain and contribute to the rural way of life here in Dodge City and this area," Ludwig said. "We rank among the top utilities in the country for the amount of wind power we have per customer. So we're very proud of that and very proud of the fact that we have an opportunity in Westar to help sustain and contribute to the prosperity of rural Kansas."
Ludwig too was very appreciative of the partners and sponsors of the project, but pointed out it wouldn't have been possible without the cooperation of landowners, other officials and people involved.
"I'm always thankful when we are in a project like this that I live and work in Kansas," Ludwig said. "Kansans like you are eminently practical and you understand the reasons why we need new sources of power and you always are very practical and take the attitude of 'let's get this done.'"
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, delayed by the day's gusty winds, praised the weather conditions.
"I used to be very critical of wind. Growing up on a farm in eastern Kansas and it's blowing and I don't like it," Brownback said. "My attitude towards wind has changed dramatically. Now I step out and it's windy outside and go, good, we are making electricity. And (now) we're shipping it all over the country."
Brownback applauded the project and its global implications.
"This is truly a global project when you look at it," Brownback said. "We've got Europe, we've got Asia and the heartland of America involved in producing electricity and Duke Energy. Glad you guys are involved as a partnership with this as well."
Kansas wind power has more bang for its buck, according to the governor.
"Wind power generated in the state of Kansas is the most economical anywhere in the United States and I believe the most economical in the world when you look at our cost of siting it and putting it here and wheeling it places, this here is wind central," Brownback said. "We desire to be, I desire to be for the state to be known not only for wheat and beef and aviation, but also to be the renewable state that we are producing more renewable energy than anywhere."
Brownback said there are 1,300 megawatts of new capacity in the state of Kansas in 2012, and he credits Westar and other electric companies for their work.
"It's a great accomplishment and great for our future that are producing royalties for individual landowners in that area. Producing jobs for us and we want to see that move on forward," Brownback said. "Kansas has a rich abundance of this homegrown renewable energy as I stated previously. We're happy to add it to our list of Kansas export commodities--alongside crude oil, natural gas, beef and wheat--is exporting our wind. And we're now taking that wind to market and delighted to see and delighted to be able to do that."
Exporting wind energy is part of a rural expansion in Kansas. For the first time in 30 years, growth can be seen in wind, oil, agricultural products, tourism based, and hunting industries, Brownback said.
"We're moving forward and expanding as a state. We want to be a pro-growth state and I think at the end of the day we want to be the best state to create and grow a business and raise a family," Brownback said. "Two kind of basic items, but they're two things I think we can do as well or better than anybody in the country and I'm delighted to be a part of it and to be able to serve as your governor in this period of time."
Kylene Scott can be reached by phone at 620-227-1804 or by email at email@example.com.