Western Kansas center to test small wind turbines

COLBY — A center in western Kansas is participating in a national effort to test small-scale wind turbines.

A subcontract award from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory will be used to create the High Plains Small-Wind Turbine Test Center, which will be located at the Northwest Research-Extension Center just outside Colby.

Three other states will also host test centers: Texas, Utah and New York.

The focus of the research will be residential- and commercial-scale turbines that produce no more than 50 kilowatts of electricity. The goal is to offer something akin to a certification rating that can be used by the companies that manufacture the turbines.

The Hays Daily News reported that consumers also will be able to review certifications to see how the turbines perform and how they stand up.

Midwest Energy spokesman Bob Helm said the utility will build a power line from the turbine test center to its transmission lines in Colby and will purchase the electricity produced.

Developers hope that money from the electricity produced will sustain the test center's operations.