In 2009, Westar Energy, already one of the top utilities in the nation for renewable energy per customer, issued a request for proposals for up to an additional 500 MW of renewable energy resources. The company reviewed 35 proposals. After much research, and given changing legislative and economic conditions, Westar opted to obtain rights from Infinity Wind to develop the Ironwood site to position itself to add additional renewable generation quickly once market conditions and transmission availability become more favorable for its customers.
"Kansas is a leader in renewable energy because of great corporate citizens like Westar Energy. As we work to get the economy back on track, the new jobs and new opportunities found in renewable energy will help to move us forward," said Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson.
"This expansion of our commitment to clean wind energy is another example of our environmental stewardship," said Bill Moore, Westar president and CEO. "Our deal with Infinity allows us flexibility to time the ultimate construction of the wind farm for the advantage of our customers and investors."
"This announcement is the culmination of the efforts of many people over the past year to secure one of the most attractive wind development sites in Kansas for the benefit of our customers," said Greg Greenwood, vice president, generation construction. The development agreement with Infinity is structured as an asset purchase and includes contracts with landowners currently covering 18,603 acres as well as other development-related assets. As part of the agreement, Infinity will provide future development services to further prepare the site for construction of the wind farm.
"Collaboration with Westar on the Ironwood project confirms our commitment to the landowners of Ford and Hodgeman Counties to secure a relationship with the ideal long-term project owner and operator," said Matt Riley, Infinity Wind Power CEO. "Westar’s commitment to renewable energy development and dedication to high voltage transmission line construction precisely align with Infinity’s development goals. We are excited to work with the Westar team to bring the economic benefits of wind energy development to this community."
A new Kansas mandate requires electric utilities to have renewable capacity equal to 10% of the utilities peak summer demand, and 20% by 2020. For Westar this means growing its nearly 300 MW renewable generation portfolio by 160 MW to 200 MW by the end of 2011 and more than 600 MW of new renewable sources by 2020.
Westar currently owns or purchases power from three wind farms in Kansas. Westar owns Central Plains Wind farm, a 99 MW facility near Leoti, Kan. The company has a 100 MW share of the Flat Ridge Wind Farm, near Nashville, Kan. Westar purchases 96 MW of wind power from the Meridian Way Wind Farm near Concordia, Kan. Those wind farms went online in 2008 and 2009.
Westar Energy, Inc. (NYSE: WR) is the largest electric utility in Kansas, providing electric service to about 684,000 customers in the state. Westar Energy has about 7,100 megawatts of electric generation capacity and operates and coordinates more than 35,000 miles of electric distribution and transmission lines. For more information about Westar Energy, visit us on the Internet at http://www.WestarEnergy.com.
Infinity Wind Power is a leader in wind energy development, focused on advancing quality wind projects through the development process. Based on a landowner advocacy approach, Infinity’s primary goal is to identify and develop wind energy projects with a focus on partnership creation for long-term ownership.