Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Construction on what will soon be the state's largest wind farm is in high gear in south central Kansas. The $800 million BP Wind Energy project is called Flat Ridge 2. It's 40 miles southwest of Wichita along the Kingman-Harper county line.
Hundreds of people have temporarily relocated to the area to help build the wind farm. Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce Director Wanda Kelsey says those workers have given their community a big economic boost.
"It's definitely a positive impact on our community. We're seeing our sales tax increase and you can just tell it in the traffic up and down Main Street," said Kelsy.
The increase in traffic includes large trucks that are hauling parts and equipment south through Kingman towards the wind farm site.
Jeri's Kitchen owner Eric Anderson says the project is definitely boosting his profits. The restaurant was destroyed by fire in 2010 but reopened last August in time to take advantage of the business boom. Anderson says wind farm workers generally come late for dinner and early for breakfast.
"A couple weeks ago we had breakfast cooked for 400 people for them. It's really helped us out with an increase in our business," said Anderson.
In addition to the business boom, the area's rental market is also benefiting from the project. Kingman real estate broker Scott Sparks says it is now nearly impossible to snag a rental home.
"You're going to have to go someplace else because everything's rented in Kingman, America," said Sparks. "Everything from tax credit housing, to the nicer homes, to the one bedroom houses... everything's rented."
Once construction on the wind farm is completed, the workers will leave the area for other projects. In the meantime, residents are happy to reap the economic impact.