20 things to know about 20 years of wind power in Kansas
Kansas’ first major wind farm turns 20 this year, so we’ve put together a list of 20 things to know on the industry.
- Kansas’ wind turbines can generate 7,028 megawatts, the 4th highest in the country and enough to power about 1.6 million homes.
- Wind represented 42.2% of all electricity produced in the state in 2020. It is second behind Iowa in the proportion of energy drawn from wind.
- The state’s first large-scale wind project was commissioned in late 2001 in Gray County, Kansas.
- Kansas added 896 megawatts of wind generation in 2020, increasing that capacity by nearly 13% in a single year.
- There are approximately 3,500 turbines in the state.
- The average height of a Kansas wind turbine at the hub, where the rotation of the blades is converted to electricity, is 267 feet.
- The average overall height, including the blades, is 430 feet.
- The average length of the rotor from the tip of the blade to the tip is 326 feet.
- The tallest wind turbines in the state are 374 feet tall to the hub and are located at the Prairie Queen Wind Farm in Allen County.
- The state’s shortest wind turbines are 213 feet high to the hub and are located at the Gray County Wind Farm.
- Average output power of a Kansas wind turbine, 2 megawatts.
- The greatest setback, or the distance between a turbine and a structure, is in Pratt County and is 2,500 feet.
- When operating at full capacity, the tip of the blade of a wind turbine can move up to 200 mph.
- The state’s wind industry earns about $ 48 million a year in lease payments to landowners.
- The industry will also make approximately $ 657 million in negotiated payments to local governments over the life of ongoing projects.
- Since 2001, the industry has created 8,682 construction jobs and 563 permanent jobs.
- The median salary for a wind technology in 2020 was $ 56,000 per year.
- Wind technology is expected to be one of the most in-demand jobs over the next 10 years.
- Thirty counties in Kansas have wind turbines.
- Ford County has 409 turbines, the largest number in the state.
Bonus: watch a 300 foot tall wind turbine go from standstill to full power.
Much of the information in this list is taken from the USGS Wind Turbine Database, the 2021 Onshore Wind Turbine Market Report, and the 2020 Annual Economic Impacts of Kansas Wind Energy report.
Brian Grimmett reports on the environment, energy and natural resources for KMUW in Wichita and the Kansas News Service. You can follow him on Twitter @briangrimmett or email him at grimmett (at) kmuw (dot) org. The Kansas News Service is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW, and High Plains Public Radio focused on health, the social determinants of health and how they relate to public policy.
Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished by media at no cost with appropriate attribution and a link to ksnewsservice.org.