Wind farm to bring jobs to Nemaha County
A new wind farm will bring competitively-priced renewable energy to Northeast Kansas, as well as provide a significant economic impact to the area.
In July, the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) approved a new program that will give businesses in Westar Energy’s service area access to competitively priced renewable energy. Westar Energy has signed a 20-year agreement with NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, to purchase energy from the new 300-megawatt wind farm to be developed in Nemaha County.
The Soldier Creek Wind Energy Center will be developed northeast of Manhattan. The 300 megawatts of wind energy will be produced by approximately 120 GE turbines. Each turbine will be up to 90 meters tall from the ground to the hub in the center of the blades. NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, will own and operate the wind farm. Westar will purchase the electricity produced to serve their customers.
“Westar considers several factors when selecting wind farms,” said Westar spokeswoman Gina Penzig. “Community support of the project, environmental impact and cost are among the most important factors to Westar when selecting wind farms.”
The energy from the wind farm is earmarked for a new program that can be a valuable economic development tool for Kansas, Penzig said.
“Many businesses desire affordable renewable energy to help reach sustainability goals,” she said. “The Soldier Creek Wind Energy Center, along with a new program approved by the KCC can help them meet these goals.”
Landowners will receive more than $50 million in land-rights payments during the first 30 years of the project.
Wind Farm Benefits
Wind farms have many benefits, including:
• Provide employment opportunities;
• Add property taxes benefiting schools and local civic service;
• Support economy through purchases of regional goods and services;
• Provide landowners lease payments;
• Increase local spending for goods and services during construction;
• Charitable contributions to local organizations;
• Create no air or water pollution;
• Use no water in power generation;
• Allow land to remain in agricultural use.
The goal of the new program is to attract business development by offering businesses a path toward sustainability goals with Kansas’ abundant, affordable renewable energy. The businesses will be able to claim a portion of the energy generated by the wind farm as their own. This will help those businesses retain all of the renewable attributes and lock in part of their electricity prices for up to 20 years.
Construction on the wind farm is set to begin in 2019, with the wind farm being operational by the fourth quarter of 2020. The wind farm project is expected to bring about 250 construction jobs to Nemaha County. Fifteen to 20 permanent jobs will be available once the wind farm is operational.