By Derek Spellman
NEOSHO, Mo. — Empire District Electric Co. hopes to have access to a second wind-energy farm and attain its goals for wind-energy output by the end of this year, an official said Thursday.
The Meridian Way Wind Farm near Concordia, Kan., should be finished and selling power to the Joplin utility by December, said Blake Mertens, Empire’s manager of strategic projects. Crews are expected to break ground on the project sometime next month.
Once the second farm is online, wind energy should account for between 15 percent and 20 percent of Empire’s total annual production, Mertens told those attending a quarterly luncheon of the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce.
That percentage likely is the maximum that Empire will be able to attain for its total electrical production, but it still should elevate Empire to one of the industry’s “leading utilities” when it comes to wind energy’s share of total production, he said.
As of August 2007, wind energy accounted for about 8.3 percent of Empire’s total production, he said.
By comparison, wind energy represents just 0.8 percent of total electricity production in the United States, according to Dan Riedinger, a spokesman for Edison Electric Institute, an association of shareholder-owned electric companies in the United States.
Riedinger did note that wind power is the fastest growing source of electricity generation.
Although coal remains the predominant source of generation, Mertens said the industry as a whole is embracing wind power for both environmental and economic reasons.
“Wind is not the only solution, but it is part of the solution,” he said of addressing the nation’s growing power needs.
From an environmental perspective, wind power allows electric companies to rely less on coal and curb the emissions from coal burning, he said.
Christine Real de Azua, a spokeswoman for the American Wind Energy Association, a national trade association representing the wind-power industry, said wind affords utilities a more stable energy source that can help spare them from fluctuations in fuel prices. It is also a constant, available energy source.
“It is a secure supply because the wind is always there, and it’s free,” she said.
Mertens said he could not disclose the cost of purchasing wind-generated power against the cost of power from coal burning, citing Empire’s confidentiality agreements with the companies.
In June 2007, Empire announced that it had signed a 20-year agreement with Horizon Wind Energy, of Houston, Texas, to purchase energy from the Meridian Way Wind Farm. The company plans to purchase about 350,000 megawatt-hours of energy annually from the project — enough to meet the annual electricity needs of about 25,000 homes.
That compact marked 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. The company annually purchases about 525,000 megawatt-hours from Elk River — enough to satisfy the annual power needs of about 42,000 homes.
By the numbers
Each of the wind turbines from which Empire now purchases power is 262 feet tall to its hub, and each rotor has a diameter of about 250 feet.
By Derek Spellman
- Local News
PSU to once again host Baja SAE competition
For the second time in four years, Pittsburg State University will host the Baja SAE-Kansas competition, which officials anticipate drawing several thousand competitors from across the U.S. and numerous countries.
Suspect denies any attempt to rob bank
A suspect in a bank robbery attempt in Miami that led to a fatal crash claimed in federal court this week that he was merely inquiring about opening an account at the bank and left when a teller used a racial slur.
Kansas attorney general mulls seeking death penalty for four killings
No decision has been made on whether to seek the death penalty for a 22-year-old man charged with capital murder in the deaths of a woman and her three children, an assistant attorney general said Wednesday after a court hearing.
Webb City school district breaks ground today
Webb City Board of Education, Chamber of Commerce members and city officials will gather at 1:30 p.m. today at Webb City Middle School for a ceremonial groundbreaking for a safe room at the school.
Local runners question decision to end marathon
Runners and others involved with the Mother Road Marathon don’t want the event to end despite Monday’s decision by the Joplin City Council. A council majority, citing costs of the event and declining participation, voted to discontinue funding for the marathon crossing three states on Route 66.
Senate passes tax incentives for Boeing
Missouri’s enticement package for a new Boeing assembly plant cleared its most daunting obstacle Wednesday as state senators passed a plan that could offer up to $1.7 billion of incentives over two decades.
St. Mary’s church, school awarded $300,000 grant from Community Foundation
St. Mary’s Catholic Church and its elementary school have received another substantial boost in their efforts to rebuild after the May 2011 tornado: a $300,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Southwest Missouri.
Working web site won’t help ‘Obamacare,’ senator says
A working web site will not spell the end for problems with the federal Affordable Health Care Act, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt told a Joplin crowd on Wednesday.
Neosho City Council prepares for future auction; trucks, welder, generators may be on block
There’s a city auction in Neosho’s future, but no date has been set.
Joplin panel backing three city charter changes
Out of the nine proposed changes submitted for its study, members of Joplin’s Charter Review Commission have endorsed three. The panel will advance proposals that City Council members’ pay be increased, that years of residency be decreased as a qualification to run for the council, and that a requirement that the public works director be a professional engineer be removed.
- More Local News Headlines
- PSU to once again host Baja SAE competition