KCP&L has announced plans to increase its sustainability portfolio with the purchase of an additional 500 megawatts (MW) of power from two new wind facilities in its service region. That’s enough energy to power up to 170,000 homes.
Osborn is a 200 MW wind farm that is being constructed by NextEra Energy Resources in DeKalb County just east of St. Joseph, Mo. Osborn is expected to reach commercial operation by the end of 2016.
Rock Creek is a 300 MW wind farm that is being constructed by Tradewind Energy in Atchison County, near Tarkio, Mo. Rock Creek is expected to reach commercial operation by September, 2017.
Close to home
Both of these projects are located within the KCP&L service area. This close proximity was one of the primary reasons for choosing both of these projects.
“Being close to our service area allows us to invest back in the communities we serve,” said Bassham. “The developers have committed to hiring locally for the construction and ongoing operation of these facilities, which will boost the local economies in this region.”
Not only is the location good for regional economic development, but the location of these facilities minimizes the transmission risk that many utilities are facing with renewable energy. Both of these projects will connect directly to the Midwest Transmission Project (MTP) transmission line, which allows for easier delivery of the electricity within this region.
Keeping costs lower
“In addition to being in a good location, the cost of these projects made them very appealing to us to pursue at this time,” explained Bassham. “We believe these projects will bring significant benefits to both our customers and shareholders.”
These facilities will be economically beneficial to KCP&L’s customers over the lifetime of the 20-year agreements with these developers. While wind turbines cannot yet replace base-load generation, like at KCP&L’s larger power plants, these wind turbines will be a cheaper option to supplement that base-load than purchasing power from other locations.
In addition, both of these projects qualify for the federal Production Tax Credit. This tax credit allows KCP&L to pass savings along to customers, keeping rates lower than would otherwise be possible.
Using these wind turbines in the place of other forms of electricity generation not only offsets cost, it is also a more environmentally-friendly option for the region. These wind facilities will reduce carbon emissions and help attain EPA regional ozone standards and position KCP&L well to meet state requirements for the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.
When these projects are operational they will increase KCP&L’s total wind energy portfolio to nearly 1,400 MW. With that and the company’s investments in hydroelectric, landfill gas and solar power, KCP&L currently has the largest portfolio of renewable energy and energy efficiency per customer in Missouri.
“Not only do we recognize the need to have renewable energy as a part of our company’s current and future energy mix, but so do the states we operate in, Missouri and Kansas,” said Bassham.
Missouri has the renewable portfolio standards (RPS) that require utilities operating in the state to generate a specified percentage of its energy from renewable sources like wind. These projects put KCP&L well ahead of RPS compliance dates and percentages in Missouri.
“There are so many reasons that make now the right time to pursue these investments,” commented Bassham. “We are excited to take advantage of such an abundant natural resource by adding these projects to our renewable energy portfolio.”