Westar Energy had developed an energy plan to ensure safe and affordable electricity to more than 400,000 Kansas homes in the decades ahead. Wind was expected to be a vital part of that plan. With Black & Veatch’s help on two important projects, Westar’s plan has become reality.
The first of those projects, the Emporia Energy Center, is a power generation plant located just outside Emporia, Kansas. Black & Veatch designed and constructed the plant with seven combustion turbine generators to supply power to the grid during peak periods. The plant also helps to serve Westar customers when the wind stops blowing and Westar’s wind generation can’t supply power.
Black & Veatch also provided Westar with conceptual planning and power supply modeling for its Kansas Wind Generation project. Together, these two projects provide the backup generation reserves that Westar can call on for its wind energy program. With the added transmission upgrades that Black & Veatch helped Westar make, these peaking units help serve as backup to the wind generators, maximizing the value of wind to Westar and its customers.
The quick-start capability of these Emporia Energy Center units makes this plant an enabler of the renewables fleet at Westar. With a backup plant that has that capability, Westar’s nearly 700 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy can be used efficiently.
The Emporia Energy Center has a capacity of 665 MW and is able to provide power to customer homes during times of greatest need. Fueled with natural gas, this plant is designed to be highly efficient.
This Westar project provides benefits to Kansans at other levels. Local schools and government will receive tax revenues over the life of the Emporia Energy Center. At the community level, Black & Veatch and Westar volunteers joined forces to build a concession stand at the ball park in nearby Reading, Kansas. Reading uses revenue from the concession stand to help raise money for the community’s sports programs.