Kansas to see growth in wind power

The wind energy industry in Kansas will see strong growth this year, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

About 700 megawatts of new wind farms are now under construction in Kansas, with more likely to be added this year, according to the U.S. Wind Industry Fourth Quarter 2013 Market Report.

The state has nearly 3,000 megawatts of capacity already operating.

Farms now under construction include Western Plains, a 400-megawatt wind farm in Ford County; Buckeye, an up to 200-megawatt wind farm in Ellis County; and two smaller projects totaling more than 120 megawatts.

In addition, Kansas City Power & Light recently signed a contract to buy up to 200 megawatts from a to-be-constructed wind farm in Coffey County.

Nationally, more than 12,000 megawatts of projects were in some phase of construction at the beginning of 2014, said Liz Salerno, vice president of the association. Also, she said, utilities nationally are publicly soliciting developers for an additional 5,200 megawatts.

That puts this year well ahead of 2012, the previous best year with about 10,000 megawatts of new capacity.

Plus, she said, an unknown number of wind farm deals have yet to surface.

The federal subsidy for wind energy, called the production tax credit, expired on Dec. 31, but because of the way the rules were written, utilities and wind farm developers can wait months before going public with the deals and breaking ground. More deals are expected to be announced in the coming months.

She said 2013 was expected to be a down year for construction because of uncertainty over the renewal of the tax credit. Kansas saw only one new wind farm, the 250-megawatt Buffalo Dunes in southwest Kansas, built last year.

She said the industry expected a rebound in 2014.