The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Joplin Metro

June 26, 2007

Empire reaches second wind-power agreement

Jim Moss 6/26/07 pullout at bottom

By Wally Kennedy

Empire District Electric Co. on Tuesday said it has signed a 20-year agreement with Horizon Wind Energy, of Houston, Texas, to purchase energy from the Meridian Way Wind Farm near Concordia, Kan. The farm will be operational in late 2008.

Empire said it will purchase about 350,000 megawatt-hours of energy annually from the project — enough to meet the annual electricity needs of about 25,000 homes.

Empire is the only utility that will purchase power from the wind farm in its initial phase of development.

The agreement is the second that Empire has reached for wind energy. In late 2005, Empire began purchasing energy from the Elk River Wind Farm near Beaumont, Kan. In 2006, Empire purchased 525,000 megawatt-hours from Elk River. It is the only purchaser of energy from that farm.

Empire officials project that almost 15 percent of its electrical energy will come from Elk River and Meridian Way in Cloud County, Kan., by 2009. Empire also has a 20-year contract with Elk River.

“We have always been interested in wind energy, but we could not do anything until it became a cost-effective resource for our customers,” said Amy Bass, spokeswoman for Empire.

“We believe this is a good opportunity for us and our customers. We believe you need a well-rounded resource mix, but it had to get to a point where the technology had been developed and refined.”

Bass said wind energy has become more viable as other energy sources have increased in cost. Federal incentives for the development of wind energy also make the price more attractive, she said.

Empire also is selling tax credits available for wind energy to utilities in states that require a portion of a utility’s energy portfolio to be renewable.

“We are selling those credits to reduce the cost of the energy to our customers,” Bass said. Those credits will be available to Empire in the future if it is required to provide energy from renewable sources.

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