The Kaw helps to produce electricity from coal-fired power plants, natural gas plants, and hydropower damsProducing electricity requires water, lots of water. That’s why electrical generating plants in Kansas are located along rivers. The Westar Energy Centers (Jeffrey, Tecumseh and Lawrence) draw water from the river to produce steam to turn their turbines, while the hydroelectric facility at Bowersock Mills and Power Company depends on the water flowing down the Kaw to directly turn its turbines. The Board of Public Utilities plant in Wyandotte County has had to put its power plant in long-term cold storage because the drought in the 1990's combined with the lowering of the Kansas River due to river bed degradation left it without enough water to cover its intakes. Without water we can't produce electricity from coal, natural gas, or hydroelectric facilities.
This map pinpoints the plants that use water from the Kansas River to produce electricity for the residents of the Kaw Valley. Coal-fired plants are linked on the map by yellow lines to the coal mines that supply them.
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The Jeffrey Energy Center relies on coal to produce electricity. According to Brad Loveless, the Director of Biology and Conservation Programs at Westar, the coal used by Jeffrey comes from Eagle Butte Mine, which is owned by Alpha Natural Reources, Southern Powder Basin, Gillette, Wyoming (see map below). Jeffrey has the capacity to produce 1,857 megawatts of electrical power annually. During a year Jeffrey Energy Center uses 9,153,000 tons of coal, 9,700 bbls* of oil, and withdraws 4,618,620,000 gallons of water.
* one barrel of oil (bbls)=42 gallons of oil
Below is a satellite image of the Black Thunder Mine from Google Maps.
The Lawrence Energy Center has a capacity to produce 539 MW of electricity annually. It uses 2,029,000 tons of coal, 124,000,000 cubic feet natural gas and 1,582,033,000 gallons of water per year. The suppliers of coal and gas are the same as those for the Tecumseh Energy Center. (Thanks to Brad Loveless for this information)
, "Low-head (<30 meters) development or Run-of-river plants tap the energy in streams and rivers. These plants sometimes use small reservoirs retaining up to a week’s water supply, but low speed turbines are used which are designed to handle large volumes of water at low pressure, so often, no reservoir is needed. Run-of-river plants are small units and subject to large fluctuations in output due to variable rainfall. Bowersock is a 2.5 MW run-of-the-river facility on the Kaw (Kansas) River in Lawrence." According to Bowersock Mills and Power Company
The BPU has a power station in Kansas City Kansas that is on the
Kansas River. It operates on both coal and natural gas. Its current
status is ‘Long Term Cold Storage’. We ceased operation on coal about
1997, then later ran it for about 5 years on natural gas for summer
load only. The Kansas River conditions were a major factor in our
discontinuing its use and placing it into long term cold storage. More
specifically, the combination of drought conditions and river bed
degradation lowered the river elevation at the intake to a point were
we could not draw adequate cooling water from the river. There are no
immediate plans to return it to service at this time.