For the first time, the Kansas State Fair — which consumes about a gigawatt of electricity during its 10-day run — will be entirely powered by Kansas wind energy.
At least on paper, since there’s no longer an operating wind turbine on the grounds.
Enel Green Power, in partnership with Westar Energy and KCP&L, is retiring renewable energy credits (RECs) equivalent to the amount of electricity expected to be consumed during the 2019 event.
That, according to the power generator, equates to the electricity consumed annually by 123 homes.
The international renewable energy company owns and operates Diamond Vista, a 300 MW wind farm located in Marion and Dickinson Counties that began operation at the end of 2018.
Diamond Vista’s 95 turbines produce about 1,300 GWh of electricity per year, enough to meet the needs of more than 100,000 Kansas households, according to the company.
For every 1,000 kilowatts of energy it produces and routes into the regional Southwest Power Pool supply grid, the company is awarded a renewable energy credit, explained Marcus Krembs, director of sustainability for the United States and Canada at Enel.
The owner of the wind farm can sell the REC, and the certificate or credit is then retired. Each credit can be used only once.
So, though they can’t say the site in central Hutchinson is actually consuming the charged molecules generated by the wind farm, the fair will get credit as a green energy user — and become the first in the country to hit the 100 percent green milestone.
Krembs declined to say what the energy credits awarded to the fair are worth, but noted that the fair is not paying for them.
Instead, they are being donated through the agreement between Enel and Westar to promote wind energy in the state.
“It’s purely a market mechanism, for certifying an equivalent amount of electricity consumed by the fair is being generated by Diamond Wind,” he said. “I can say there are significant environmental benefits from renewable energy, with it being a zero-emission power source.”
The 1 GWh generated for the fair avoids greenhouse gas emissions equal to removing 150 passenger cars off the road for one year, according to the company.
“Supplying 100% renewable energy, in partnership with Westar Energy and KCP&L, for the largest event in Kansas is a celebration of successful partnerships with the state, landowners and local communities,” Krembs stated. “Kansas wind power represents billions of dollars of investment and thousands of good-paying, skilled Kansas-based jobs.”
“We are proud to partner with Enel and Westar to make the Kansas State Fair one of the greenest state fairs in the nation,” Kansas State Fair General Manager Robin Jennison said in a release.
Kohler, a manufacturer of plumbing fixtures headquartered in Wisconsin, is buying a third of the annual credits and related electrical generation from Diamond Vista.
Other power purchasers include Oklahoma’s Tri-County Electric Cooperative and City Utilities of Springfield, Mo., according to previous news reports. Not all the annual generation, however, has been sold.
In Kansas, Enel Green Power operates six wind power plants, representing over $2.1 billion in total investment and more than 210 full-time employees working in the state.
With its acquisition this year of Lenexa-based developer Tradewind Energy, which built Diamond Vista, Enel Green Power has become the largest wind operator in Kansas, it said, with more than 1.4 GW of operational wind capacity.