Archive for Wednesday, March 21, 2001

Energy firm eyes county

North Carolina company interested in building power plant

March 21, 2001

Generating electricity is big business.

And Duke Energy North America, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, Charlotte, N.C., is considering bringing that business to Leavenworth County.

Rick Rhodes, spokesperson for Duke Energy North America, said Leavenworth County is one of several northeast Kansas sites the corporation is eyeing for possible construction of a power plant powered by natural gas.

If constructed, the $200 million facility would employ from five to 10 people or 10 to 25 people, depending on the type of power plant it would be.

Gary Carlson, executive director of Leavenworth Area Development, said that since July the corporation has been considering Leavenworth County, as well as Johnson County and sites in other states.

At least 120 acres of land is required for the project.

"They actually need about 30 acres for the plant and the rest of it is for putting trees and being some distance away from somebody else," Carlson said. "If they could get 160 acres, they would, so that they would have a buffer zone."

The plant requires: water, which is part of the steam generation process; pipelines to bring in natural gas; and transmission lines to send the electricity out, Carlson said.

Carlson described the operation as a huge producer.

"A 60-watt light bulb uses 60 watts, a kilowatt is a thousand watts and a megawatt is a million watts," Carlson said. "So what they're planning to do is build a 650-megawatt generation plant."

If the plant were constructed in Leavenworth County, Carlson said it would pay an estimated $5 million in property taxes, meaning revenue for the area.

"It would be big time for the county," Carlson said. "I hate to say that's pure profit, but they would have few demands on the county and city. The gas comes in underground, the electricity leaves through the wires that don't harm anybody. There's no truck traffic and no demand on the road system."

Carlson said the jobs the plant would provide would be for upper level employees.

"For the most part they're going to be engineers," Carlson said. "It's not exactly laborers or flipping hamburgers."

Carlson said he hopes the corporation remains interested in Leavenworth County.

"We're going to pursue it until they tell us they're going away and never coming back," Carlson said. "And then we're still interested."

Right now, Duke Energy is in the early stage of site evaluation, Rhodes said.

"This is an area that we're just evaluating and it will be probably close to the end of the year or 2002 before we make a decision," Rhodes said. "It's a large body of work that we have to take on just to complete the evaluation."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.