The Kansas Corporation Commission has approved a route for a Texas company's proposed $7 billion high-voltage line that would funnel power from wind farms in southwest Kansas to out-of-state sites.
The KCC has approved Clean Line Energy's route for the line. In Kansas, the transmission line would run 370 miles from wind farms in Ford County to Missouri, across Illinois and into Indiana. Clean Line still needs approval in Missouri and Illinois.
Westar Energy plans to purchase 200 megawatts of electricity from a northern Oklahoma wind farm expected to begin operating in late 2016.
The Topeka-based utility announced Wednesday that it had reached a purchase agreement with Virginia-based Apex Clean Energy.
Westar already has about 700 megawatts of electricity from renewable resources.
Apex plans to start building the 18,000-acre wind farm in 2015. The site is about six miles south of Arkansas City, Kan., where city manager Nickolaus Hernandez says the project is expected to boost the local economy.
Westar Energy Inc. is trying to expand its renewable energy portfolio.
The state's largest electric utility says it's accepting proposals from developers to add at least 80 megawatts of wind energy production, through September 13. Westar wants to enter into long-term contracts to help it meet state renewable energy requirements for 2016. The standard requires utilities to get 15 percent of their peak power through renewable sources.
Westar has almost 700 megawatts of renewable energy resources in Kansas, in addition to its coal and natural gas power plants.
A Kansas consumer advocate agency is saying that Westar Energy, Inc. can make necessary environmental improvements at its power plants with a smaller rate increase than it requested.
An attorney for the Citizens' Utility Ratepayer Board filed testimony with the Kansas Corporation Commission yesterday, saying Westar could reduce its rate increase request by $1 million and still accomplish its goals.
CURB also argues against Westar's plan to shift the burden of the increase away from large businesses to residential customers.
A new effort to roll back new green energy standards in Kansas utilities has stalled in the state Legislature.
The House Energy and Environment Committee tabled a bill today that would put off a requirement for utilities to generate at least 20 percent of its energy with renewable resources by the year 2020. The tabled bill would rolled back the standard to 15 percent, not 20.