In July 2018, the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) passed the Direct Renewable Participation Service (DRPS) tariff which enabled large commercial and industrial customers to access wind energy at lower rates than the utility’s current offerings. This has helped to fuel a surge in wind energy production in the state, allowing Textron Aviation to announce a multi-year agreement with Evergy, Inc. to meet nearly all of its electricity needs at the company’s facilities located in Wichita and Independence, Kansas, by utilizing renewable wind energy.
Evergy’s new green energy program will allow Textron Aviation a path towards achieving its sustainability goals using Kansas’ abundant, affordable and renewable wind energy. The DRPS tariff lowers Textron Aviation’s fuel factor cost from 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) to 1.8 cents per kWh, nearly a 22-percent savings. Textron Aviation normally uses enough energy to power about 22,500 homes. By supporting wind energy production in Kansas, Textron Aviation will significantly offset its carbon footprint.
The multi-year agreement with Evergy will provide Textron Aviation’s Kansas facilities with 55 megawatts (MW) of energy from a 300-MW wind farm being constructed near Manhattan, Kansas, in Nemaha County. The Soldier Creek Wind Farm is scheduled to be on line by the end of 2020.
“The purchase of renewable energy demonstrates our commitment to a more sustainable future for our employees, communities, and customers,” said Brad White, Textron Aviation senior vice president, Operations. “Textron Aviation claims nearly 20 percent of the zero-emission and renewable energy generated by the Soldier Creek Wind Energy Center.”
Textron Aviation continues to be a leading general aviation aircraft manufacturer and is home to the Beechcraft, Cessna, and Hawker brands, which together account for more than half of all general aviation aircraft flying, according to the company. Their general aviation product portfolio includes five principal lines: business jets, general aviation, and special mission turboprop aircraft, high-performance piston aircraft, military trainer and defense aircraft plus a global customer service organization. Textron Aviation has delivered more than 250,000 aircraft in more than 170 countries.
NextEra Energy Resources is leading the Soldier Creek Wind Farm, a project that appears to be a win-win for all stakeholders by creating jobs, economic growth, and clean energy. The company said Soldier Creek will have approximately 120 GE wind turbines capable of generating up to 300 megawatts (MW) of clean, renewable power while creating up to 250 construction and 15-20 good-paying, full-time jobs to operate. Additionally, the project will provide approximately $50 million in payments to Nemaha County landowners and pump approximately $34 million in additional revenue into Nemaha County budgets.
The state-of-the-art GE turbines at the Soldier Creek Wind Farm are capable of withstanding Midwest weather, with a sophisticated computer system inside each turbine that performs thorough self-diagnostic tests and troubleshoots errors before the startup command is given. If the computer detects any problems, or if winds are sustained at 56 mph or gusting over 100 mph, the turbines shut down automatically. A System Control and Data Acquisition control system allows a remote operator to use a data link from anywhere in the country to set new operating parameters, perform system checks and ensure turbines are operating at peak performance.