Westar launches new program to sell wind energy to commercial customers

Westar Energy is about to launch a new program that will allow large commercial customers to lock in a portion of their electric rates for up to 20 years if they agree to purchase energy from a soon-to-be developed wind farm in Nemaha County, northeast of Manhattan.

The Kansas Corporation Commission approved the plan, which is formally known as a “direct renewable participation service,” on Tuesday.

With that approval, Westar announced Wednesday that it had reached a 20-year agreement to buy electricity from the Soldier Creek Wind Energy Center, a 300-megawatt wind farm that is being developed by an affiliate of NextEra Energy Resources LLC, which is based in Juno Beach, Fla.

Terry Bassham, president and CEO of Evergy, the company that now operates Westar and Kansas City Power & Light, said in a statement that the program will make Kansas more attractive to certain kinds of businesses.

Westar said the wind farm is expected to bring 250 construction jobs and 15 to 20 permanent jobs to Nemaha County. In addition, landowners will receive more than $50 million in land-rights payments during the first 30 years of the project.

“Many large companies want affordable green energy when they choose sites for expansion or new facilities,” Bassham said. “We are harnessing Kansas wind to attract and grow Kansas businesses. Wind energy boosts our local economies starting with the new wind farm jobs and the lease payments to landowners hosting the wind farm all the way to the communities that grow as businesses choose Kansas.”

A spokeswoman for Westar said the new wind farm is currently scheduled to go online in the fourth quarter of 2020.