Kansas utility Westar Energy seeks renewable energy proposals

Source: Westar Energy, Inc.

Westar Energy, Inc. (NYSE:WR) announced it is seeking bids from renewable energy developers for up to 200 megawatts of renewable resources through one or more power purchase agreements, commonly referred to as a PPA. The company plans to add to its leadership position and have the additional generation online by late 2012. 

Renewable energy helps us meet our customers' needs while protecting the environment and plays an important role in our generation portfolio," said Bill Moore, Westar Energy chief executive officer. "Renewables can't do it alone and it takes our entire mix of coal and natural gas plants, our share of a nuclear plant, plus energy efficiency programs to provide reliable electric service. Proper transmission capacity supports that reliability for our customers and we work hard to ensure we can deliver renewable energy to them." 

Earlier this year Westar obtained development rights to the Ironwood Wind Farm site in southwest Kansas. Under this RFP, Westar will offer a portion of the Ironwood land rights for this PPA. Should a different site be proposed as a better opportunity, Westar will keep the entire Ironwood site to meet its future goals and state requirements for renewable energy. 

Proposals are due September 2. The company expects to announce its selection by year end. Westar's ultimate decision to add more renewable resources will hinge on overall costs, adequate transmission capacity to deliver renewable energy to its customers, the status of state and federal policy on renewable resources, and regulatory treatment. 

Westar requires that wind power proposals adhere to the guidelines set forth by the Kansas Energy Council. These guidelines address matters of interest to communities and natural resources near potential wind power sites. Westar is also requiring that all proposals address potential environmental impacts at proposed locations. 

Westar presently has 301 MW of renewable resources representing 6 percent of its customers' peak demand. Additional renewable energy sought through this request for proposals will allow Westar to meet requirements for state renewable energy standards. 

In 2007, Westar Energy solicited bids for renewable energy projects. Following that RFP, Westar launched the state's largest wind energy program of its kind with 295 megawatts of renewable energy produced from three wind farms. Westar already ranks among the top utilities in the nation for the amount of wind power per customer. 

Westar owns and operates the Central Plains Wind Farm in Wichita County near Leoti. That 99 MW project became fully operational in March 2009. The company owns half of the 100 MW's of power generation at Flat Ridge Wind Farm, located near Medicine Lodge in Barber County, and purchases the other half of the power produced through a power purchase agreement. Flat Ridge Wind Farm reached commercial operation in early March 2009. Westar purchases nearly half of the power produced by the 201 MW Meridian Way Wind Farm near Concordia in Cloud County through a power purchase agreement. Meridian Way became fully operational in December 2008. Westar also purchases 6 MW's of landfill gas electric generation, another kind of renewable resource, from the Rolling Meadows Landfill north of Topeka. 

Westar Energy, Inc is the largest electric utility in Kansas, providing electric service to about 685,000 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

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