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Oct 052011

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

Republicans are obstructionists. Oil companies are evil. And America is failing to seize clean energy opportunities.

Well…not in Kansas. The land of Oz has yanked back the curtain on those stereotypes and revealed a new landscape, one with towering wind turbines put up by oil companies, supported by Main Street and endorsed by Republican leaders.

It’s true. Kansas has just unveiled a huge new $800 million wind project to be built by oil giant BP across 66,000 acres of farmland spanning four counties.

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, a longtime supporter of wind energy, announced the 419 megawatt project Tuesday in Wichita.

“We have enjoyed working closely with BP Wind Energy to create jobs and grow the economy in our state,” Brownback said. “Kansans have a proud history of meeting the needs of the world. We export wheat to feed the hungry and will now be exporting our latest crop—clean, reliable and affordable wind energy to power the needs of our nation.”

The Flat Ridge 2 wind farm, which will be installed across Barber, Harper, Kingman and Sumner counties in South Central Kansas, is expected to create  500 construction jobs and 30 long-term operating positions.

About 75 percent of the electricity it will generate has already been sold to Associated Electric Cooperative Inc. (AECI) in Missouri in a long-term commitment that is expected to help both the wind farm and the utility by providing a reliable source of electricity at a stable price. The electricity will be sold to co-op members in Missouri, Oklahoma and Iowa.

“Today’s announcement of a PPA (provider agreement) with AECI is a milestone in the project’s development that will create some 500 jobs during peak construction and will provide over $1 million annually to the local communities without impacting traditional farming and ranching activities,” said John Graham, president and CEO, BP Wind Energy.

Leasing land for turbines from farmers and permitting for turbines will account for the $1 million to local communities. Construction on the wind farm could begin before the end of 2011, and it could be operational in 2012. The wind farm will be the largest in Kansas so far.

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