October 11, 2010
A Kansas energy company has announced plans to build a $350-million wind farm in Southeast Kansas. The hope is that the plant and the wind power it provides will bring a huge boost to a struggling economy.
We've seen the advent of wind energy and wind turbines over the last few years across the Midwest and the latest project is in Southeast Kansas, near the town of Howard.
"It'll help everybody," said Patrick Perkins. "I don't see a down side to it."
Wind turbines will soon be constructed a few miles west of Howard after Lenexa-based Tradewind Energy reached lease agreements with local landowners. Perkins is one of those landowners.
"We don't have the infrastructure to get them here first, so they're actually going to come in and build roads and build infrastructure to get the wind farm built," Perkins explains. "That's what we're looking forward to."
The so-called Caney River Wind Project will generate 200 megawatts per year, powering the equivalent of 60,000 homes. The electricity will be sold to the Tennessee Valley Authority.
In Howard, the recent economic recession hasn't affected the town all that much. That's because most will tell you that Howard didn't have much to lose in the first place.
"There are no jobs for the young people here," Galvan said. "There just nothing to keep the young people here. That's why all rural America is hurting, because there's nothing to keep them around."
In Howard, the community survives on a small tax base. Elk County has the second lowest per-capita income level in the state. The wind farm's expected revenue generation will provide a unprecedented economic boost.
"It's almost as substantial as Wolf Creek is to Coffey County," said County Commissioner Liz Hendricks. "I mean, it is that huge. The county itself will get a million dollars, which is payment in lieu of taxes."
$1,000,000 represents half of Elk County's entire annual budget.
Although the electricity generated from the project won't go to power any of the homes or business around Howard, it's the jobs and money generated that everybody is looking forward to.