Turbines could start turning this year

87 towers could power all homes in Wichita

News editor

If the weather is cooperative, construction on a wind farm between Marion, Florence, and Peabody could begin before the year is out.

“If everything goes to plan, our plan is to start construction in late 2013,” Lee Bowen of Sunwind Energy Group said Monday.

The first stage of construction will be building gravel roads to where turbines will be built on concrete pads. It should take four to six months to receive turbines after they are ordered from Siemens Wind Power of Hutchinson.

Sunwind plans to erect at least 87 turbines, capable of producing 200 megawatts, Bowen said. Based an average of 1.31 kilowatts used per household, 200 megawatts could power 153,191 homes, enough for all the households in Wichita.

Rex Savage of Windborne Energy has developed the project to this point, making agreements with landowners and getting zoning approval from the county.

Savage said Sunwind is negotiating to purchase the project from Windborne, but hasn’t closed the deal yet. Bowen said Sunwind has made a down payment and is finalizing purchase.

“It’s a very hopeful sign, but it doesn’t guarantee us anything,” Savage said.

Wind turbines won’t be the first towers to go in the wind farm. On June 5, the county granted permits to Windborne in care of Sunwind for two meteorological towers to collect data on wind speed and direction. Savage said data from these towers will help determine placement of turbines in the wind farm.

These towers will be 60 meters — 197 feet — tall. They will be on the sections southwest of the intersections of Remington and 110th roads and Upland and 130th roads.

County regulations don’t set a maximum height for wind turbines. At minimum, the blades of turbines must be at least 100 feet above the ground. The county has limited wind farm development to a district bounded by 140th and Pawnee roads and U.S. 50 and 77.

The county Planning Commission has reviewed an application for a private airstrip near the wind farm district but has made no recommendation to the commission.

The commission is waiting for action by the Federal Aviation Administration before making a recommendation.

 

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