Energy was one of several hot issues discussed Saturday, as mayors from across northwest Kansas gathered in Hays for an annual Northwest Kansas Mayors Association summit. ...Bill Dowling, vice president of energy management and supply at Midwest Energy, also discussed the importance of multiple energy sources, and explained how diversity affects the power pool.
While wind development is good -- and on the increase -- production from this resource is not always stable, he said.
The Ellis County Commission and Hays Wind LLC have filed their responses to a civil lawsuit filed Aug. 26 regarding a conditional-use permit granted for a wind farm southwest of Hays.
The suit was filed on behalf of 44 plaintiffs hoping to reverse the commission's decision to issue a conditional use permit and approve the development plan for the project.
The appeal, filed by Wichita attorney Patrick Hughes, alleges the conditional-use permit application and development plan submitted by Hays Wind were incomplete.
Construction on a new 72-tower wind farm in Thomas County could begin before the end of the year.
A second wind farm is being planned for Hamilton County by Acconia Energy North America, a subsidiary of Acconia, based in Madrid, Spain.
Both projects still are on the drawing board, so details likely will change before construction actually begins ...
Three groups of developers are taking a look at Marshall County as a possible site for a wind farm, according to Marysville Mayor Bernie Krug.
Krug said the interest was only in the initial exploration phase and developers' names would not be released until they express interest in pursuing a project.
The interest of wind development companies has received a mostly warm welcome in Saline County, he said.
"We were initially very excited to see that someone else thinks we have something of value above our land," Pryor said.
But landowners are proceeding cautiously, he said.
Part of Saline County's attraction to potential developers, he said, is that no one in the county has signed away their wind energy rights. Those contracts tend to last for several decades and are therefore nothing to be taken lightly, he said.
Opponents of a proposed wind farm southwest of Hays filed a lawsuit in Ellis County District Court on Tuesday seeking to reverse the decision to issue a conditional-use permit.
The lawsuit did not, however, ask for any type of restraining order.
The case was filed by Wichita attorney Patrick Hughes on behalf of 44 plaintiffs -- a virtual who's who of residents living in the area surrounding the proposed wind farm -- against the Ellis County Commission.
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has once again challenged Kansas to utilize alternative energy sources.
The voluntary initiative encourages Kansas to have 1,000 megawatts of renewable energy installed by 2015.
But if some experts are right, that increased reliance on renewable energy will mean Kansas will also have higher utility bills. And because of a lack of transmission lines, there may be no place for the energy to go. ..."Challenges, such as that posed by Governor Sebelius, are symbolic, political tools, that do little more than push the building of wind turbines for the sake of building wind turbines," Linowes said.
A company from Kansas is exploring building two wind farms, one near Kouts and one near LaCrosse.
Within the next month, Trade Wind Energy of Lenexa, Kan., will erect a 197-foot-tall wind monitoring tower. ...Because guide wire towers are not allowed in the county, a zoning variance had to be granted this week.
At Monday's Hays Area Planning Commission meeting, commissioners were informed that legal descriptions defining the city-governed 3-mile zoning radius of Hays need to be revised.
Jesse Rohr, superintendent of planning, inspection and enforcement, said the issue surfaced as city staff began analyzing plans for a wind farm southwest of Hays, which includes plans for turbines in the area. ...Hays Wind Project Manager Krista Gordon previously said there are eight turbines proposed within the 3-mile radius as defined in county zoning regulations.
It was more wind talk Monday evening as the Hays Area Planning Commission continued efforts to develop wind turbine regulations for city-governed land.
The board has been working to develop the regulations for several months, and with a couple extra work sessions, hopes to wrap the process up by November.
Because the commission oversees regulations in town and within the surrounding 3-mile radius, rules for both hobbyist and commercial towers have been taken into consideration.
Monday's Ellis County Commission vote to grant a conditional-use permit application for a wind project southwest of Hays was a step forward for Iberdrola's 200-megawatt project.
Individuals on both sides of the issue, however, expect that final resolution of this debate could be issued in district court.
"I sincerely appreciate the vote of support this morning," said Krista Gordon, Hays Wind project manager. ...Not everyone, however, is pleased with the commissioners' decision.
Tim Davis, co-chairman of the Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition, a group opposed to the wind farm, said plans to file an appeal in district court have been under way.
For the second time in less than a year, the Ellis County Commission was split in its decision to grant a conditional-use permit for a wind farm southwest of Hays.
This time, however, the 2-1 vote in favor of granting the permit was sufficient.
Approval of Iberdrola's much-contested 200-megawatt wind farm project, to stretch across approximately 13,000 acres of land, was granted this morning.
"The zoning board did vote 5-2 for approval," Commissioner Vernon Berens said. "All I can say is, I think it's an excellent benefit economically and otherwise for the county."
In a 2-1 vote, the Ellis County Commission gave its approval to the latest conditional-use permit for a large-scale wind-energy development southwest of Hays.
Perry Hanman, whose dissenting vote nixed the project last fall, again voted against the project, with commissioners Vernon Berens and Dennis Pfannenstiel supporting the plan.
Another appeal has been filed regarding the development plan for a much-contested wind farm southwest of Hays, and this one will come before the Ellis County Commission later this month.
The appeal was submitted by Wichita attorney Patrick Hughes on behalf of almost 60 Ellis County residents.
"The appeal requires the county commission to weigh in on the questions that were raised to the planning commission," Hughes said, referring to the June 24 meeting of the Ellis County Joint Planning Commission.
As Iberdrola's plans continue for a proposed wind farm west of Hays and two other wind farms in Ellis County, another company is pursuing plans for an operation north of town.
Denver-based Invenergy Wind LLC is working to gauge landowner support, and has been encouraged by local interest, said Mark Jacobson, director of business development. ...The company also is eying other opportunities in the state of Kansas, but has made the Ellis County location its primary focus in the state, he said.
With no protest mounted, a proposed wind project southwest of Hays will come before the Ellis County Commission needing a simple majority.
Approved by the Ellis County Joint Planning Commission by a 5-2 vote in June, the Hays Wind project received no opposition during a protest period that ended Wednesday, and county commissioners tentatively are set to hear the proposal July 28. ...Iberdrola has yet to sell the energy expected to be produced on the Hays Wind site.
The request, for a restraining order and a writ of mandamus -- seeking to force the county to do its duty under zoning regulations -- had been made by Rod Bittel, who lives about a mile from where the wind farm would be located.
Even though he denied the requests from Bittel and his attorney, Patrick Hughes, Wichita, Toepfer left open the door for additional action.
"If either party is ultimately aggrieved by what the county commission does with regard to this application, then an appeal can be taken to the district court to determine if the action was not supported by the evidence or is otherwise arbitrary or capricious," the judge said in summing up his ruling.
The two companies vying to build the "V" line through southwest Kansas -- a new superhighway for electric transmission -- made their cases Friday to the Kansas Electric Transmission Authority in Wichita.
The authority, which facilitates planning for the grid in Kansas, is waiting to see which company the Kansas Corporation Commission allows to build a line they hope will spur the continued rise of wind farms in western Kansas and help equalize electric rates for Kansans statewide. ...Kansas could be the first in the Midwest to see construction of a 765-kilovolt transmission line, noted Transmission Authority Chairman Carl Holmes, a legislator from Liberal.
"I think it's significant," he said at Friday's meeting. "There's a good chance the first 765-line west of the Mississippi River will be built in Kansas."
The line could be erected as a "V," from Spearville southeast into Barber County, then angling northeast into the Wichita area.
For the second time in about a year, the Ellis County Joint Planning Commission recommended approval of the proposed Hays Wind project by a majority vote.
Following Wednesday's lengthy public hearing, the present commissioners voted 5-2 to recommend county commissioners approve the conditional-use permit application. ...
One concern voiced by both commissioners voting against the project was the fact the project's boundaries have been altered, creating gaps in the project area to allow for setbacks from neighbors not involved in the project.
By altering these boundaries, the company has reduced the feasibility for a valid protest petition, as provided for in county zoning regulations, Anderson said.
An appeal has been filed with the Ellis County Board of Zoning Appeals, protesting a public hearing scheduled for Wednesday.
The public hearing had been slated for the Joint Planning Commission to consider a conditional-use permit application submitted by Iberdrola's Hays Wind for the proposed wind farm southwest of Hays.
The appeal was filed by members of the Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition, who say the application is incomplete and the case should not be heard until corrections are made. ...How the appeal will affect the wind farm hearing remains unknown. [Zoning Administrator Dale] Wing said he is waiting for response from the county's attorney, Dennis Davidson, regarding the issue.