The Kansas wind can be unpredictable. It can change direction, it can change speed and, sometimes, it can temporarily subside. But one thing is certain. The wind will blow most of the time.
Fort Hays State University's effort to harvest electricity from the Kansas wind has also seen some uncertainties, but the outcome was never in doubt.
"We have been working on this project for six years, from the first discussions through several twists and turns, but we never gave up because we knew it was the right thing to do," Dr. Edward H. Hammond, president, said during a news conference today on the FHSU campus. "This morning we are announcing that a contract has been signed and installation of two wind turbines will begin soon. We expect the system to become operational by late June in 2013, and we are projecting annual savings on our energy bill in the range of $600,000 to $1 million."
The president said the final cost of the project was estimated at $8.8 million to $9 million. "That is a turnkey estimate," he said. "It includes everything necessary to deliver electricity from the turbines to the campus."
Also, President Hammond read a statement from Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback expressing enthusiasm for the project: "Fort Hays State University is paving the way for the future of Kansans. This project will give students a new avenue in education and help grow our state's economy by adding local Kansas jobs."
Vestas, the world leader in manufacturing wind turbines with more than 47,000 installed globally, will produce blades, towers and nacelles at its Colorado manufacturing facilities. It will be the sixth project in Kansas to use Vestas turbines since the company provided the first utility-scale turbines near Montezuma in 2002. FHSU will be the 12th educational institution in the United States to install a Vestas turbine.
"We are thrilled to deliver more clean and reliable energy to Kansas," said Chris Brown, president of Vestas’ sales and service division in the United States and Canada. "We are supplying one of our newest models, called the V100-2.0 MW VCSS, that uses our latest technology and will be the first ones installed in North America. This turbine builds on our proven 2 MW platform with more than 9,800 installed worldwide."
FHSU is nearing an agreement with the PNE Corporation, Longview, Wash., for installation of the turbines.
Dr. Hammond and Michael Estes, a vice president with HTWN, signed an assignment agreement at the news conference conveying the rights and responsibilities of turbine ownership to FHSU.
"We congratulate FHSU on being a pioneer amongst institutions for harvesting this natural resource in our great state of Kansas," said Haley Estes Roberto, vice president of HTWN, a national leader in turnkey distributed wind energy solutions.
The turbines, each about 400 feet high at the tip of the blade, will be located on land leased from a private citizen, Brian Staab. It was necessary to place the turbines outside the three-mile limit of the city of Hays due to an ordinance that prohibits turbines of this height. The location is about a half-mile west and a little north of FHSU's Super Dual Auroral Radar Network southwest of Hays at Golf Course Road and 210th Ave. The turbines will be visible from campus but relatively small on the horizon.
The project includes 3.5 miles of underground transmission line from the turbines to the Akers Energy Center on campus. Also, fiber will be buried adjacent to the transmission line, allowing FHSU staff to monitor and control electricity production to meet campus needs.
Additional benefits are expected. President Hammond said an education program related to renewable energy is in the planning stages. Also, the wind project represents a significant step in FHSU's efforts toward sustainability, in this case by producing and using "green" energy. FHSU also is exploring ways that excess electricity might be used to power other green energy development.
"We especially appreciate the unanimous support we received from the Ellis County Commission and the positive recommendation from the Ellis County Joint Planning Commission," President Hammond said. "We started discussing this project six years ago and worked through different possibilities. Our consultant, WECC LLC, was very helpful as we moved through the various stages. We also appreciate the great cooperation we received from the other partners in this project."
"We are honored to be involved in this project, and in particular to be part of Dr. Hammond's vision of using clean energy in the university’s micro grid," said Mike Steinke, executive managing partner of WECC LLC. "The entire FHSU team not only bought into this vision, but so has the community. Throughout our involvement with this project, we remain in awe of the strong commitment within all levels of the FHSU institution and with the political and operational leadership within Ellis County government."
Steinke continued: "FHSU is a pacesetter and clearly has set the bar very high regarding how distributed energy projects are brought to reality. Through my discussions with political and institutional leadership throughout Kansas, it's clear that FHSU and this project are being watched closely and will serve as a model for other government entities and institutions. As we enter the final phase of this project, we look forward to remaining an integral part of this very special team."
About WECC LLC
WECC customizes innovative, accurate and cost-effective wind and hybrid renewable energy solutions for businesses, organizations, municipalities, developers and investors. A full-service renewable energy company, WECC provides professional, unique and comprehensive solutions for wind, solar and hybrid renewable solutions of all sizes. Whether a "behind the meter" renewable energy production solution to offset high energy costs for a building or facility, a community-funded project or developing a utility-grade wind farm, WECC is the only resource our clients need. Our focus is unique in that we serve our clients through the entire process of initial evaluation to implementation.
About Harvest the Wind Network
Harvest the Wind Network LLC, headquartered in Greensburg, is a national leader in turnkey distributed wind energy solutions. HTWN has 12 regional dealer groups across the United States that deliver distributed and community wind energy solutions. Each dealer group has dedicated wind specialists and technicians trained and supported by HTWN and their leading wind turbine vendor partners. Since origination in 2008, HTWN has supported the successful installation of more than 150 distributed wind projects totaling more than 6MW, of which 2.3MW is at educational facilities. Additionally, HTWN has nearly two dozen projects in advanced development, ranging from 50kW to 4MW. To find out more about what is happening at HTWN, visit www.HTWN.com.
Vestas is the world leader in supplying high-tech wind power systems, and a preferred provider of wind turbines, services and solutions in Canada and the United States. With more than 50 GW of installed capacity worldwide, Vestas has supplied more than 47,000 wind turbines in 71 countries since 1979. Vestas sold its first wind turbine in North America in 1981 and since has supplied more than 13,000 turbines to the United States and Canada. The company’s North American headquarters is in Portland, Ore., and its global headquarters is in Aarhus, Denmark.
About PNE Corporation
PNE Corp. was founded in 1989 with a vision to become the leader in construction, industrial and commercial electrical, industrial services, and environmental solutions in the Pacific Northwest. With headquarters in Longview, Wash., PNE now operates in national and international markets.