Westar Energy To Expand Wind Program, Help Kansas Economy

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Westar Energy, Inc. (NYSE: WR) reached agreement with Apex Clean Energy to purchase 200 megawatts of electricity from a wind farm Apex will build near Arkansas City.

“This project is great for our customers,” Mark Ruelle, chief executive officer, said. “ For the first time, we’ve been able to add renewable energy at a cost comparable to our other energy resources. In addition, the project will bring about $90 million to the Kansas economy during construction and provide millions more in ongoing economic benefits.”

The project is near one of Westar Energy’s recently constructed high-voltage transmission lines, meaning that hooking it up will be less costly and less disruptive. It comprises about 18,000 acres six miles south of Arkansas City, just across the state line. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2015, and the wind farm is expected to begin providing electricity in late 2016.

“When construction starts, Arkansas City likely see a boost in our economy from the local hiring, as well as the presence of other construction workers who will eat, sleep and shop in our community,” Nickolaus Hernandez, city manager of Arkansas City, said in support of the project. “The Kay Wind project will bring significant economic benefits to the people of Arkansas City for decades to come.”

Westar currently has about 700 MW of renewable energy in its generation portfolio. It was the first utility in Kansas to add commercial scale wind energy to its generation, with a pilot project in 1999. It remains a leader in renewable energy.

Apex Clean Energy is developing a number of large-scale wind energy projects in the Midwest.

“We are very pleased to be working with Westar, and we look forward to a strong long-term relationship moving forward,” said Mark Goodwin, president of Apex. “The Kay project will bring clean energy, at a great value, to Westar and its customers.”