Published 1/14/2013 in NewsWICHITA (AP) — Wind energy in Kansas could be in store for another round of development after a federal tax credit was renewed for one year.
Kansas saw the most wind farm construction of any state last year, The Wichita Eagle reported. But by early fall, projects stalled and workers were laid off because the industry was expecting the tax credit to expire on Jan. 1.
Industry experts now say conditions are ripe for another burst of construction after Congress approved a tax credit for the production of wind, solar and other renewable energy. The cost was $12.2 billion.
New wind energy products are being discussed in central and western Kansas.
Under the recently approved law, developers must start construction during 2013. That is different than last year when developers were required to have projects operational by Dec. 31 to get the tax credit.
The deadline created a rush, with the 470-megawatt Flat Ridge 2 wind farm becoming operational just a few weeks ago, a little more than a year after it was announced in October 2011. The project 40 miles southwest of Wichita sprawls across 66,000 acres.
Although clarification is being sought about what it means to "start" construction, industry experts say it almost certainly means the bulk of construction can be done in 2014.
Lenexa-based TradeWinds Energy has said it will build Buffalo Dunes, a 200-plus megawatt wind farm, on 42,000 acres of land in Finney, Grant and Haskell counties. It has a buyer for the power.
BP Wind Energy has said it is planning an expansion of its Flat Ridge complex, with the 130-megawatt Flat Ridge 3 wind farm. It also is planning the 150-megawatt Ninnescah Wind Farm, about 20 miles northwest of the Flat Ridge complex and marketing the projects to power buyers.
Ford County, home of Dodge City, may see two new wind farms start in 2013, said Mark Shriwise, the county's planning director.
One of those projects, Western Plains wind farm, will come in somewhere between 200 and 400 megawatts, said Matt Riley, CEO of developer Infinity Wind Power of Santa Barbara, Calif.
"The production tax credit played a big part with the move forward of Western Plains," he said. "Had it not gone through, the future was quite uncertain. It would have delayed construction for at least a year or two, if not indefinitely."
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