Kansas

K-State will save $200,000 a year by tapping into this natural resource

Kansas State announced that a new agreement with Westar Energy means a Nemaha County wind farm will cover half of the energy needs for the Manhattan campus starting in 2020.
Kansas State announced that a new agreement with Westar Energy means a Nemaha County wind farm will cover half of the energy needs for the Manhattan campus starting in 2020.

By 2020, half of Kansas State University’s Manhattan campus will be powered by wind, school officials announced Tuesday.

A new agreement with Westar Energy will cover half of the energy needs for the campus, saving up to $200,000 per year.

The university had looked at ways to use wind power for years, including whether it should purchase its own turbine, Gary Weishaar, university manager of energy and controls, told The Star.

The measure was not just about cost-savings, Weishaar said, but part of ongoing sustainability efforts that are important to students.

“That’s the number one question they ask … about renewables,” Weishaar said. “They care about climate change, global warming and renewable energy.”

The Westar opportunity is part of a new Renewables Direct program that offers fixed rates for large clients.

Kansas State’s new source of power will come from Soldier Creek Wind Energy Center, a 300-megawatt wind farm in Nemaha County, northeast of Manhattan. It’s expected to be operational by 2020.

As part of the agreement, the university will be locked into fixed rates cheaper than its current electricity bills for 20 years. Currently, electricity costs Kansas State 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour. But the new plan will freeze costs at 1.8 cents.

Kansas State consumes roughly 113 million kilowatt-hours per year.

Weishaar said the university is also transitioning to more energy-efficient LED lighting, benefiting from a second cooling system on campus installed this summer and replacing older technology with more sustainable products.

According to Westar’s website, the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Washburn University in Topeka and Benedictine College in Atchison are also clients of its new program.

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