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Missouri ranks fifth nationally in new wind power capacity

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Associated Electric buys all the power from four Missouri wind farms and contracted for another 300 megawatts from BP Wind Energy’s Flat Ridge 2 farm in south-central Kansas, completed in 2012, and for 150 MW from Wind Capital Group’s Osage County wind farm in northeast Oklahoma, completed in 2015.

The U.S. finished 2017 with cumulative installed wind power capacity of 89,077 megawatts, located across 41 states, shows data released by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

According to the trade association, the output of these wind farms is enough to meet the demand of about 26 million local households. The state with the highest total installed capacity was Texas, which also led in terms of new capacity in October-December 2017, when 1,179 MW of wind parks were brought live. Second in the ranking came Oklahoma with 851 MW of new wind farms, followed by Iowa with 334 MW. Illinois and Missouri ranked next with wind power capacity additions of 306 MW and 300 MW, respectively.

Overall, the US added 7,017 megawatts of fresh wind turbine capacity last year, representing $11 billion in private investment. It also has a pipeline of wind farms under construction or in advanced development totalling 28,668 MW, which is 34% more as compared to end-2016.

“This American success story will continue, with the wind project construction and advanced development pipeline four times greater than the amount installed in 2017,” AWEA’s CEO Tom Kiernan said.

A total of 29 new wind parks with a combined capacity of 4,125 megawatts were brought online in 16 US states in the closing quarter of 2017, AWEA said in its US Wind Industry Fourth Quarter 2017 Market Report.

City Utilities of Springfield has purchase agreements (PPAs) for 710 megawatts, about 25 percent of the electricity needed to power Springfield! At the Frontier Windpower Project near Blackwell, Okla., there are 61 wind-power generating turbines online that can produce up to 200 megawatts of power, which means it’s capable of producing up to 750,000 megawatt hours of renewable energy every year. CU now gets 40 percent of Springfield’s electrical power can come from renewable energy including the landfill project, wind, solar and hydro.

Associated Electric of Springfield buys all the power generated by four Missouri wind farms. It also signed two more long-term wind power purchase agreements, contracting for 300 megawatts from BP Wind Energy’s Flat Ridge 2 farm in south-central Kansas, completed in 2012, and for 150 megawatts from Wind Capital Group’s Osage County wind farm in northeast Oklahoma, completed in 2015.

Joplin-based Empire District Electric Co. announced plans in November 2017 to develop an additional 800 megawatts of wind power and to generate that power as close to its Missouri service area as possible.

The $1.5 billion development brings with it a new harvest for more than 100 other landowners who have signed leases with Empire since the spring, paving the way for the company to possibly build several hundred turbines in parts of Jasper, Barton, Dade and Lawrence counties. Empire has more than 50,000 acres under lease, but only part of that might actually see turbines, although the utility hasn’t ruled out the possibility of looking elsewhere if Southwest Missouri doesn’t have the wind to support the project.

In Bentonville, Ark., Walmart’s goal is to be 50 percent powered by clean and renewable energy sources by 2025 part of an initiative announced 12 years ago to reduce Walmart’s environmental footprint. While the chain has installed solar panels atop hundreds of stores, it has purchased much of its green energy via two power purchase agreements (PPAs). The retail giant already purchases more renewable energy than many states.

AWEA noted that the US continues to put effort in the development of its offshore wind industry. The country currently has five offshore wind projects in advanced development stages that will bring 490 MW of offshore capacity.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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