JOPLIN, MO. - The Empire District Electric Company announced Tuesday that it has signed a 20-year purchased power agreement with Cloud County Wind Farm, LLC, owned by Horizon Wind Energy in Houston, Texas.

Empire will purchase approximately 100 megawatts of energy from the Meridian Way Wind Farm located in Cloud County, Kan., near Concordia.

Empire officials anticipated that the company will purchase approximately 350,000 megawatt-hours of energy annually from the project, enough energy to meet the annual electricity needs of about 25,000 homes.

Governor Kathleen Sebelius, who recently negotiated an agreement with the major electrical generators operating in Kansas to aggressively develop wind resources, said, “I am delighted that Empire District Electric Company has decided to develop a second wind project in Kansas. Wind projects are good for our economy, good for the environment and a good business strategy for our electrical generation companies.

In making the announcement, Brad Beecher, vice president and chief operations officer, said, “Today's contract signing is a continuation of our long-range plan to ensure that our customers benefit from a balanced mix of generation options. This purchase provides our customers lower, stable prices and gives us a decrease in exposure to natural gas and a hedge against any future global warming legislation.

“This is our second involvement with a wind energy project, Beecher said. “Our first involvement was with Elk River Windfarm LLC, the owner of the 150-megawatt project located near Beaumont, Kan. We have been purchasing energy from Elk River since late 2005.