Wind farm expansion begins

Judd Weil
Dodge City Daily Globe

CLARK COUNTY — Enel Green Power started construction on the 199-Megawatt expansion of the Cimarron Bend wind farm, on June 18.

At an investment of over $281 million, the 74 turbines expansion is set to increase the wind farm’s capacity from 400 MW to 599 MW, making it the largest wind farm in Enel’s North American portfolio.

“As Kansas’ wind leader, Enel Green Power is proud to step forward to generate new jobs and economic growth for Kansas during this challenging time,” said Georgios Papadimitriou, Head of Enel Green Power in the U.S. and Canada. “Most importantly, we remain firm in our commitment to protect the health and safety of our workers and host communities as we execute this expansion safely and sustainably.”

Construction on the expansion, is slated to be completed by the end of 2020.

Gov. Laura Kelly voiced her staunch support of the Enel Green Power expansion, calling the importance of the wind energy sector challenging, but vital to the economy, as well as “an absolute win for our state, in terms of its benefits for the environment, Kansas business and residential consumers.”

David Toland, Kansas Secretary of Commerce said, “Enel Green Power’s wind farm expansion is a big win for Kansas and a big win for clean energy. Wind energy production is environmentally friendly and a constant, ongoing economic success story.

“Wind energy in the Sunflower State has seen significant job growth and capital investment, and Enel Green Power continues to be part of this progress as a leader in producing a reliable electricity supply in Kansas.”

The first two phases of Cimarron Bend’s expansion entered service in 2016 and 2017, involving an overall investment of over $891 million.

When the 199 MW addition is completed, Cimarron Bend will generate a total of more than 2.7 terawatt hours per year, allowing them to avoid the equivalent 1.8 million tons of CO2 emissions.

Construction of the 199 MW expansion will be responsible for 250 temporary jobs and an additional 5-10 permanent operations and maintenance positions, while estimated to generate $49 million in lease payments to local landowners and over $18 million in new revenue to fund schools and public services over its lifetime.

Electricity from a 150 MW part of the expansion is being sold under a 15-year bundled power purchase agreement with electric services company Evergy.

The PPA will include support for Evergy’s Renewables Direct program, allowing commercial and industrial customers to offset a percentage of their energy usage through renewable sources.

In January, Evergy committed to reducing carbon emissions 80% below 2005 readings by 2050.

“As we continue implementing more renewable energy into our overall generation mix, Evergy is pleased to partner with Enel on this expansion project to add to our total wind capacity,” said Kevin Brannan, Evergy Manager of Products and Solutions, Renewable Sources. “This helps us reduce carbon emissions and increases our wind energy levels, which leads us toward more sustainable operations and ultimately benefits our customers.”

The Missouri Joint Municipal Electric Utility Commission, a Missouri Public Utility Alliance joint action agency, that supplies municipal power for more than 60 communities in Missouri and Arkansas, will purchase the output of a 30 MW portion of the project under a 12-year bundled PPA.

“Adding wind power from Cimarron Bend to our power portfolio provides our member utilities more energy price stability and lower costs,” said Ewell Lawson, MPUA Vice President for External Affairs. “It will boost the diversity of the energy sources supplying 35 of our community-owned member systems, adding an additional 50% to their renewable portfolio.”

Power and renewable energy credits from the original 400 MW portion of Cimarron Bend are sold under bundled, long-term PPAs with Google and the Kansas City Board of Public Utilities.

In North America, Enel Green Power has enacted and are following strict COVID-19 procedures, in protect the health of its workers and the community where it operates.

This includes modified travel guidelines, office and project site sanitation and remote ways for office employees to work from a distance. Additionally, at, the Cimarron Bend site, crews have been structured to maintain social distancing, while they work.

As part of its $1.3 million response to the COVID-19 pandemic across the US and Canada, the company has dedicated $69,000 to Kansas food security organizations and first responders.

A sum of $20,000 has gone to food security organizations to Tampa in Marion County, Elk County and Ellsworth County, while $49,000 has gone to first responders in Minneola, Englewood, Ashland and Marion County.

Enel Green Power operates six wind farms in Kansas, and the company’s overall investment in Kansas amounts to more than $2.1 billion and 210 full-time employees working in the state and with its’ acquisition of Tradewind Energy Inc. last year, makes them the largest wind operator with more than 1.4 GW of operational wind capacity.