Wind energy booming in Kansas

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When driving through Kansas it’s not unusual to see fields full of wheat, corn or wind turbines. 

The Waverly Wind Farm has 95 turbines that produce electricity.

Pat Cheever is the operations manager for the wind farm, he said turbines work like a desk fan, but in reverse.

“The wind is what turns the blades, and then that rotates a shaft which rotates the generator, and then ultimately creates the electricity to send back to the grid,” said Cheever.

A decade ago the state mandated that 20 percent of energy sources be from renewable resources by 2020. It was later changed to a voluntary goal, but that hasn’t slowed down energy suppliers from making the switch.

“Now it’s about economics, so economically the wind projects today actually lower cost for our customers,” said Westar Clean Energy Development Manager Brandon Sack.

The American Wind Energy Association said Kansas ranks number one in wind energy with 36 percent of state’s electricity generated by the wind turbines.

Sack said about a third of Westar’s energy is from renewable sources. Next year they plan to add more wind energy to their mix, but he said it’s important to diversify.

“If you went 100 percent wind for example, that may not be the most feasible solution. By having various and different resources to supply the energy demands, we can make sure that the lights stay on for our customers,” said Sack.

If it’s not a windy day, farms try and make the most of their time.

“We obviously want the wind to blow, that’s our revenue stream, but when it doesn’t blow, that’s when we take advantage of that time to perform maintenance. We get in the machines and you know, clean them, change oils, check filters and replace them,” said Cheever.

The Waverly Wind Farm said they produce enough energy to power 59,000 homes.

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