The one piece of business discussed by the commission came from Commissioner Keith Campbell. Mr. Campbell proposed that the commission adopt a bylaw which said that when considering board business, if a commissioner "anticipated the opportunity" to personally benefit by the action of the board in the value of $1000 or more, that commissioner should publicly state that. ...Because of the avowed interest of some current and past members of the zoning commission in securing personal contracts with corporations seeking to put wind energy conversion systems in Ellis County, some members of the public were interested in greater transparency in the operation of the zoning board.
Local governments are beginning to flex their permitting authority to challenge commercial-scale wind farms, a trend some industry observers say could impede broader federal efforts to expand renewable energy production.
The latest round in the emerging battle between local governments and wind-energy developers occurred last week in Kansas, where the state Supreme Court upheld a Wabaunsee County zoning ordinance banning industrial-scale wind ...Experts say the Wabaunsee ordinance, unanimously upheld by the Kansas court, is a key test of local governments' power to effectively ban large-scale wind farms, as opposed to blocking a specific project or proposal.
The Kansas Supreme Court ruled Friday that Wabaunsee County commissioners have the right to prohibit the construction of commercial wind farms in their county.
But the court also questioned whether an ordinance banning commercial farms but allowing smaller wind generators for personal use violated some provisions of the U.S. Constitution. Commissioners adopted the ordinance in 2004.
In a unanimous decision, the court acknowledged the commission's concerns about potential harm to the aesthetics and ecology of the Flint Hills if huge wind turbines were erected in Wabaunsee County.
In a case pitting the beauty of the Flint Hills against large wind farms, the Flint Hills won.
The Kansas Supreme Court ruled Friday in favor of a zoning ordinance in Wabaunsee County that prohibits commercial wind farms.
Poised as the third best state in the country for wind power and on the cusp of a renewable energy revolution, Kansas has the potential to be at the epicenter of the wind industry.
While it appeared briefly Monday that the lights were out on a proposed high-voltage electric transmission line that would serve the state's growing wind industry, officials recharged the plan Tuesday.
The Southwest Power Pool Inc.'s board of directors on Tuesday included the $518 million "Spearville line" in a package of transmission expansion projects it was forwarding for further study and probable approval.
The 765-kilovolt line would go from Spearville, the site of a wind farm in southwest Kansas, to Wichita and down to the Oklahoma border, where it could hook into lines to other states.
After months of information gathering, Ellis County commissioners revisited proposed changes to the county's zoning regulations during Monday's meeting. However, they still took no action on the changes.
Specifically, commissioners discussed proposed changes to setback requirements and noise standards in the regulations.
Commissioner Glenn Diehl said he wants to protect platted, multiple-lot developments in the county the most. He proposed a 1.5-mile setback for wind turbine location from those areas.
A project to put up a wind turbine at Hope Street Academy generated a civics lesson for students there, five of whom asked the city's governing body Tuesday evening to allow small wind energy systems to operate in Topeka for nonresidential purposes.
The governing body, which includes the city council and Mayor Bill Bunten, subsequently voted 10-0 to approve an ordinance making that move and a companion measure requiring users of wind energy systems to acquire a conditional-use permit from the governing body.
The preserve itself has grown to 39,100 acres. But that's only a fraction of the 3.8-million-acre region known as the Flint Hills, straddling the Oklahoma-Kansas state line with the largest remaining patch of tallgrass prairie on the continent. ...While wind power generates clean energy, the vast networks of turbines, roads and power grids can disturb a natural ecosystem just as much as any other industrialization, Hamilton says.
Unlocking the potential of Kansas wind power will require federal legislation and more transmission lines, officials said Wednesday.
Speaking to the Kansas Wind Working Group, Gov. Mark Parkinson said the state has succeeded in reaching approximately 1,000 megawatts of wind energy.
But, he said, 2009 "has obviously been a much slower year."
How about this for a new state slogan: Kansas, not as windy as you think?
A study of long-term wind speed trends suggests just that - winds across the United States, in Kansas and a few other states in particular, have been steadily decreasing since 1973. The study, to be published in August in the Journal of Geophysical Research, is the first of its kind in the U.S.
Using data from wind monitors, the study found that winds had slowed across the U.S. by about 10 percent over 30 years.
The topic of wind turbines came to the commissioners after the Leavenworth County Planning Commission decided that the Obergs needed a special use permit in order to install the turbine. Along with the special use permit were proposed amendments in planning regulations that would establish rules for wind turbines.
Details about how much local government money could flow to the proposed Siemens Wind Power plant in Hutchinson have not fully emerged. And that could amount to a violation of the Kansas Open Meetings Act. ...However, the contract between Siemens and the participating parties - to include Reno County and the cities of Hutchinson and South Hutchinson - continues to be finalized in secret.
Just three months after starting electrical production, the blades on the wind turbines at the Flat Ridge Wind Farm in Barber County are developing small surface cracks.
Clipper Windpower of Carpinteria, Calif. provides the wind turbines that are produced by another manufacturer. The problem was discovered at another Clipper project site, said Mary Gates, director of global communications for Clipper Windpower. ..."It was a quality control deficiency with the suppliers process," Gates said.
Wind power is booming -- at the moment.
Companies are flocking to build turbine and blade plants in the United States, such as the one Siemens will build in Hutchinson. The amount of energy harvested from wind rose 50 percent last year to 25,300 megawatts.
For the people in the ethanol industry, it must sound sadly like deja vu.
There's been a major shift in the direction of Hutchinson's Sunflower Wind, but company officials say production at the wind turbine manufacturing plant is still on the horizon.
Rather than the planned 2.5-megawatt turbines with 180-foot-long blades, the company is working to produce 100-kilowatt wind turbines that require only low wind speeds to power small commercial buildings, schools, hospitals or industrial plants.
Two of the primary issues that have held back development of home or community-based turbines, industry experts say, are cost and regulation. Recent legislation has addressed each in part, but barriers remain. ..."We like the thoughts of wind turbines, but are opposed to law," said Bob Hall, manager of Ark Valley Electric Cooperative, saying it's unfair to the majority of its member customers and unreliable as an energy source.
The message Thursday evening was loud and clear: Adjustments need to be made to the location of a proposed power line stretching from Spearville to Hays.
The reasons for moving the lines varied, however, from aesthetics to interfering with a proposed wind farm in central Rush County.
It was just as clear that landowners don't consider a one-time, up-front lump payment for easements as fair.
Plaintiffs contacted by The Hays Daily News, however, say they have not signed the document, with at least one implying their intent is to do so.
While some question has been posed as to whether the county commission should have made the document public before the other signatures were obtained, Davidson said it was within the county's rights to take action.
In a unanimous decision at Monday's meeting, Ellis County Commissioners endorsed terms of settlement in a lawsuit regarding a wind farm southwest of Hays.
While commissioners said the settlement could bring closure to the hotly disputed wind farm controversy, lawsuit plaintiffs might not be so sure.
After years of discussion and a lengthy legal battle, it appears Ellis County soon could be home to a 200-megawatt wind farm.
In a unanimous decision, the Ellis County Commission today approved a settlement in the case of Davis v. Ellis County regarding a proposed project southwest of Hays.
The agreement holds that the conditional-use permit commissioners granted for the project is lawful and enforceable, meaning the wind farm could proceed.