Distributed Energy Resources

Kansas public power utility signs deal for 50 MW of wind energy

Management at the McPherson Board of Public Utilities in Kansas on Sept. 5 announced that they signed an agreement with investor-owned utility Westar Energy to purchase 50 megawatts of wind energy from a wind farm under development in Nemaha County, Kansas.

In July, Westar announced that it had reached a 20-year agreement with an affiliate of NextEra Energy Resources LLC to purchase energy from the 300-MW Soldier Creek wind farm.

Currently, approximately 15% of McPherson BPU’s energy supply comes from wind. Once the Soldier Creek wind farm is in operation, BPU expects that 30 to 35 percent of its energy will come from this renewable resource.

Westar said that energy from Soldier Creek Wind Energy Center is available by contract to communities or through Westar Energy’s recently approved Renewables Direct tariff “that enables businesses to commit to long-term purchases of Kansas wind energy at competitive prices.”

In 2016, the BPU was among five utilities to purchase wind energy from the Kingman Wind Energy Center through contracts with Westar Energy. The agreements include full-service energy management. McPherson purchases 37 MW of wind energy from the 206.6-MW Kingman wind farm, which is located in Kingman County, Kansas, and owned and operated by a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources. It began commercial operation in December 2016.

“The utility has had two years to watch how wind performed; given the positive experience we have had, carbon free emission characteristic of wind, and favorable price of wind energy, we made the decision to add more to our supply,” said BPU General Manager Tim Maier.

Much of McPherson’s economic development success and appeal to electric intensive customers is attributed to BPU, the utility said. Several large industrial companies in the McPherson area include Pfizer, CHS Oil Refinery, Viega (plastic and metal), Johns-Manville (fiberglass insulation) and many others.

“It’s a fact that large corporations around the country are becoming strong environmental champions, several of McPherson’s industrial businesses included,” said Kasi Morales, BPU Key Account Manager and Executive Director of the McPherson Industrial Development Company.

“Businesses are not only looking at cost of their energy but also where that energy is sourced from,” she said. “We recognize that by increasing the renewables in BPU’s energy supply, McPherson will have an even greater advantage when it comes to winning business expansion and new business attraction projects.”

BPU currently services nearly 8,644 customers (7,087 residential and 1,557 commercial/industrial), with both electrical and water services.

The BPU has a peak demand of 149 MW and in total, its four gas turbine generators have the capacity to generate more than 235 MW. In addition to that, the BPU operates and coordinates its own distribution lines.