Three wind turbines that power the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system at Cloud County Community College's Concordia campus are casting shadows that are too long.
At 110 feet, the windmills on a hill south of the campus have been deemed too tall by the Federal Aviation Administration. The chance of losing $1 million in federal grants has prompted the college to take action that could cost up to $150,000.
The FAA informed the college roughly a year ago that the windmills are in Blosser Municipal Airport's airspace.
It's still possible that a wind subsidy might work its way out of the Senate yet this year, but the U.S. House of Representatives is another matter.
The House includes a large contingent of staunch conservative budget hawks and opponents of alternative energy subsidies, including U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita. He said the House is highly unlikely to pass any bill with alternative energy subsidies.
Despite an incentive agreement that references it, Mars Chocolate North America won't construct a wind turbine for its Topeka site.
That is because having a wind turbine on the Kanza Fire Commerce Park would interfere with the airspace of nearby Forbes Field.
"The Sandsage Prairie is an ecosystem that is very fragile, and impacting it in a large way could have an impact on the species that depend on that ecosystem," Barton said, adding that two species in particular are the longnose snake and the lesser prairie-chicken.
Commercial wind energy projects will require a "special use" permit, which does not authorize construction of the project until the applicant (developer) has obtained a power purchase agreement for the electricity to be generated.
"Unless Indeck intends to commence construction before the moratorium expires and the county rejects your request for a suspension of the moratorium, the moratorium will have no effect on Indeck," said Hughes. "Thus, threats of litigation over any loss caused by the moratorium are premature and they are ill-founded."
The letter urged commissioners to withdraw the moratorium on wind farm generators in the county or, at a minimum, to suspend its effect on properties included in the Wildcat Wind Farm Project.
Marked by neighbor disputes, county zoning regulations and economic recession, Ellis County remains a county without active wind energy development. Production tax credits are set to expire in 2012, and Kansas' largest wind farm now is taking shape in southern Kansas.
"This court cannot know how much electricity would be generated from Wabaunsee County wind, and eventually kept out of the interstate power grid, if there were no board prohibition against (commercial wind farms)," Nuss wrote. "This type of information would be relevant (to further analysis)."
Carrick said he is concerned about his cattle because workers drive through his pastures, causing ruts in the field. He said now he is finding large holes that have not been filled.
"We don't want to see the land destroyed," said Michael Carrick, landowner.
The commissioners' motion claims the development of land for utility scale wind energy production, prior to the adoption of zoning regulations, will threaten the utility and integrity of subsequently adopted zoning regulations, and creates risk of injury to public welfare.
Though finding an Indiana bat might slam the brakes on a proposed wind farm, the presence of other bat species isn't likely to impede development.
"There's a gradient of contribution and acceptance of wildlife impacts and what companies are doing about it," said Ed Arnett, a researcher participating in the Bats Wind Energy Cooperative.
The Kansas Wildlife Federation, Schroeder said, generally is supportive of wind energy.
"But we're very concerned about bad siting," he added.
Already, a couple projects have been located in areas where it affected lesser prairie chickens.
He was taken to Medicine Lodge and then transported to Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis in Wichita where he remains in critical condition.
With the deck stacked in favor of building, he said, if systems aren't designed to keep costs down, ratepayers will suffer the most.
"I'm not opposed to building transmission lines, but right now it's sort of the gold rush," Springe said. "I'd like to see a few more checks and balances, and actually building in the least-cost way for customers."
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, at the request of wind-power developers, plan to prepare an environmental impact statement that would cover much of Kansas.
The area includes the corridor used by migrating whooping cranes and the troubled lesser prairie chicken range.
The regulatory decision follows the commission's recent approval of a $200 million high-voltage line that will hook into the V line at Medicine Lodge and run to Oklahoma. That line will help export wind energy to other states and is being built by Prairie Wind Transmission.
“Itinerant pilots unfamiliar with the tower array will be at greatest risk, in marginal VFR visibilities. Those pilots may be entering the array before they visually detect it. The entire outer boundary of the array will not be visible from any given point during marginal VFR conditions because the proposed tower array covers approximately 16 square miles within the 8-mile radius,” according to the letter.