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20 things to know about 20 years of Kansas wind farming

 The state's first large-scale wind farm in Gray County, Kansas.
Brian Grimmett
Kansas News Service
The state's first large-scale wind farm in Gray County, Kansas.

From the total power Kansas wind generates to the county with the most turbines, here's 20 interesting facts about Kansas wind.

Crysta Henthorne

The first big Kansas wind farm celebrates its 20th birthday this year, so we put together a list of 20 things to know about the industry.

  1. The wind turbines in Kansas can generate 7,028 megawatts, the 4th highest in the country and enough to power about 1.6 million homes.
  2. Wind accounted for 42.2% of all electricity produced in the state in 2020. That’s second only to Iowa in the proportion of energy drawn from wind.
  3. The first large-scale wind project in the state went online near the end of 2001 in Gray County, Kansas.
  4. Kansas added 896 megawatts of wind generation in 2020, boosting that capacity by nearly 13% in a single year.
  5. There are about 3,500 turbines in the state.
  6. The average height of a Kansas wind turbine to the hub, where the spinning of the blades is converted to electricity, is 267 feet.
  7. Average total height including blades is 430 feet. 
  8. Average length of the rotor from blade tip to tip is 326 feet.
  9. The tallest turbines in the state are 374 feet tall to the hub and are located at the Prairie Queen Wind Farm in Allen County.
  10. The shortest turbines in the state are 213 feet tall to the hub and are located at the Gray County Wind Farm.
  11. Average power output of a Kansas wind turbine, 2 megawatts.
  12. The largest setback, or the distance a turbine has to be from a structure, is in Pratt county and is 2,500 feet.
  13. When operating at full capacity, the tip of the blade on a wind turbine can be traveling as fast as 200 mph.
  14. The wind industry in the state brings in about $48 million a year in lease payments to landowners.
  15. The industry will also pay about $657 million in negotiated payments to local governments over the life of the current projects.
  16. Since 2001, the industry has created 8,682 construction jobs and 563 ongoing jobs.
  17. Median pay for a wind tech in 2020 was $56,000 a year.
  18. Wind tech is expected to be one of the most in-demand jobs over the next 10 years.
  19.  Thirty counties in Kansas have wind turbines.
  20.  Ford County has 409 turbines, the most in the state.

The information in this list was largely pulled from the USGS Wind Turbine Database, the 2021 Land-Based Wind Market Report and the Annual Economic Impacts of Kansas Wind Energy 2020 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 their connection to public policy.

Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished by news media at no cost with proper attribution and a link to ksnewsservice.org.
Copyright 2021 KMUW | NPR for Wichita. To see more, visit KMUW | NPR for Wichita.

I seek to find and tell interesting stories about how our environment shapes and impacts us. Climate change is a growing threat to all Kansans, both urban and rural, and I want to inform people about what they can expect, how it will change their daily lives and the ways in which people, corporations and governments are working to adapt. I also seek to hold utility companies accountable for their policy and ratemaking decisions. Email me at grimmett@kmuw.org.
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