Archive for Wednesday, March 28, 2001

Option placed on area land for possible power plant

Duke Energy North America looking at land in county

March 28, 2001

Interest in Leavenworth County as a site for a power plant is heating up.

Rick Rhodes, representative for Duke Energy North America, confirmed Monday that Duke is looking at ground in Leavenworth County as a site for the possible construction of a natural gas fueled power plant.

The plant, he specified, would be a wholesale electricity-generating power plant.

"What that means," Rhodes said, "our customers would be the large electric users like Kansas Power and Light and municipal systems."

The power plant would not sell power directly to consumers' homes, he said.

"We have optioned a piece of property around 160 acres in the county," Rhodes said.

An option gives a potential buyer the exclusive right to buy a property within a set period of time.

"Over the course of the next six months to a year, we will be evaluating that site for a potential electrical generation facility," Rhodes said.

Basic requirements in site selection include the availability of water, access to a major electric transmission line and access to a major natural gas supply, Rhodes said.

"We have found a listing in Leavenworth County that meets those basic requirements," he added.

Now that the property has been optioned, studies will begin.

"We'll start doing some of the environmental and engineering tests on the site, surveying, and seeing how the ground lays," Rhodes said.

Although Rhodes declined to specify in what area the property is, a source has said the land is in the Jarbalo area, north of Tonganoxie.

Since 1939, oil and gas have been pumped out of the ground in the Jarbalo and McLouth areas.

According to statistics from Kansas Geological Survey, by the end of 1999, in Leavenworth County, a cumulative 2.4 million barrels of oil had been produced since 1939, and 17.9 million mcf of natural gas. An mcf is 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas.

In Jefferson County by the end of 1999, a cumulative 1.7 million barrels of oil had been produced, as well as 6.2 mcf.

Rex Buchanan associate director of the geological survey, said production in both counties has been tapering off.

Wells completed in the 1990s tend to be drilled for storage purposes, more than for production, Buchanan said.

Oil and gas in this part of the state is located between the pores of sandstone and limestone rocks, he said. Natural gas that is put into the underground areas takes up the spaces between the pores of the stone.

Rick Reischman, manager of Williams Gas Pipeline Southcentral, Tonganoxie, said Williams is connected to about 140 natural gas storage wells north of McLouth and in the Jarbalo area.

"We put the natural gas into the ground," Reischman said. "The customers own all the gas in the storage field and we just transport it to them."

Major customers include Missouri Gas Energy, Kansas Gas Service and Utilicorp, Reischman said.

It would make sense, he said, to construct a power plant in that area.

"From the gas supply standpoint, we would have to determine if the system would have the capacity to power it," Reischman said. "Williams might have to make some enhancements on our system to supply that."

Rhodes said the underground gas storage doesn't play so much a part in Duke's interest in the area, as does the infrastructure, such as Williams' pipelines, that's already in place to transport the natural gas.

"Certainly, the availability of gas in that area is a part of the reason that we're attracted to it," Rhodes said. "If you have a major storage area, then you're probably going to have major lines coming out of that area to transport gas."

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