Sudden request for proposals -- Kansas utility tests the waters

UtiliCorp of Kansas issued a hurried request for proposals (RFP) to a handful of wind plant developers early last month. All of them are prominent in the Midwest wind scene. UtiliCorp is hoping to capitalise on wind's federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) before it expires at the end of next year.

The RFP asks for proposals in price-per-kilowatt-hour for generation of 25 MW, 25-50 MW, 50-75 MW, 75-100 MW, and over 100 MW for contracts of five, ten and 15 years. The cost is to include interconnection to local transmission. "The RFP is primarily to gauge where the prices are," says UtiliCorp's Carl Turner. "The information we get back will determine what we do." The utility is seeking less than $0.03/kWh, including the PTC, he adds.

UtiliCorp declines to name the RFP recipients, but Northern Alternative Energy, FPL Energy and Enron Wind are all active in the Midwest. Prior to the RFP Enron was already working on a wind project of up to 100 MW in Kansas (Windpower Monthly, November 2000). UtiliCorp now appears to be testing the likely price level for wind in its region.

Bids were due November 24 with the utility aiming to complete contracts -- if the price is right -- by the end of this month. Resources would be brought on-line between March 1 and December 31. The wind will be used for customers of two UtiliCorp subsidiaries, WestPlains Energy-Kansas and Missouri Public Service, together serving about 210,000 customers. Turner says the utility is considering whether the power would feed a green pricing program or be mixed with other resources.