Sunflower Electric Adds Wind PowerBy Steven Johnson | ECT Staff Writer Published: September 21st, 2011
A new wind project in Kansas will provide the Sunflower Electric Power Corp. and the Mid-Kansas Electric Co. generation and transmission system with a major addition to its renewable energy portfolio.
The Hays, Kan.-based G&T and Infinity Wind Power LLC announced Sept. 7 that they have signed a 20-year power purchase agreement for 104 megawatts from Infinity’s Shooting Star Wind Project.
Infinity, headquartered in California, acquired development rights to the wind farm in August from Clipper Windpower LLC.
The project is located on about 11,000 acres in the south-central part of Kansas, near Mullinville, and is scheduled to begin operations by the end of 2012.
“Anytime we can harness the Kansas wind at an affordable price from a project that will provide many economic benefits to the region, it’s a great move for our members,” said Stuart Lowry, Sunflower’s president and chief executive officer.
The contract was signed by Mid-Kansas Electric Co., which was formed in 2005 by five of Sunflower’s members as well as a wholly owned subsidiary. The Carmel, Ind.-based National Renewables Cooperative Organization facilitated the agreement.
“We are happy that the Shooting Star project fit Sunflower’s renewable energy needs, and we look forward to many more collaborations in the future,” said Amadou Fall, chief executive officer of NRCO.
When the 65-turbine project starts producing power, the combined Sunflower system will have net renewable generation capacity equal to 29 percent of retail peak demand.
That exceeds a Kansas renewable energy standard that requires electric utilities to have at least 15 percent of their peak demand from renewable resources by 2016.
Lowry praised Earl Watkins, former Sunflower CEO, and other co-op officials for laying the groundwork for the acquisition.
“The addition of this wind generation to our system, a contract that is the culmination of much hard work by Earl Watkins and Sunflower employees, will allow us to best meet our members’ needs for reliable energy at the lowest possible cost,” he said.
Sunflower said the project will provide more than $10 million in royalty revenue to area landowners during the life of the contract and generate approximately 250,000 hours of construction labor.
Infinity has also established a community benefits fund for deployment in Kiowa County, host of the project, which will help the rural county address pressing concerns and needs.
“The community near the Shooting Star Wind Project has been incredibly supportive over the years, and we look forward to providing the economic benefits that come with wind power construction and operation,” said Matt Riley, Infinity’s chief executive officer.