January 19, 2011
Westar seeks approval to buy more wind power; comments welcome, but public hearing is cancelled
TOPEKA, Kansas, January 19, 2011 ó Westar has filed an application with the Commission seeking approval to purchase an additional 369 megawatts of wind energy. Approval will mean that Westar will be allowed to recover the cost of this wind from its customers.
In 2009, the legislature adopted a Renewable Energy Standards Act (RES). The RES requires utilities to generate electricity from renewable resources equal to 10% of peak capacity through 2015, 15% of peak capacity from 2016 to 2019 and 20% for 2020 and thereafter. Bottom line, since itís the most economic renewable resource available, the utilities have to add wind power to the system to meet this mandate. Westar estimates it will need to add 1000 mega-watts of total renewable generation by 2020 to meet the 20% RES.
Westar has already added 295 megawatts of wind from three separate wind farms. It owns half of that wind outright and buys the other half through a purchase contract. The cost of what it owns is in your rates. The cost of the half it buys on contract is in the Retail Energy Cost Adjustment (RECA) on your bill. Since the proposed new wind is also through purchased power contracts, the cost of the contract will also show up in your monthly RECA. Westar estimates the new wind purchase will have a direct cost in the $48 million per year range.
CURB has been granted intervention, and CURBís consultants are evaluating the filing. We will decide whether to support this purchase at a later time.
The Commission is seeking public comments, but cancelled the public hearing because of inclement weather, and decided not to reschedule the hearing. If Westarís application is approved, the 369 megawatts of wind should be built and operational by 2012.
KCC Docket No. 11-WSEE-377-PRE