The fate of a proposed wind energy generation facility at Fort Hays State University remains uncertain.
Members of the Hays Area Planning Commission discussed the proposed two-tower project at their Monday evening meeting, but no recommendation was made. FHSU has requested the commission to modify existing city ordinances.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday approved a plan to pay for the massive power line upgrades needed to boost wind farm construction in the region.
The Southwest Power Pool, a regional cooperative of electrical utilities that includes Kansas, sought approval to spread the entire $1.1 billion cost for the larger lines across all of its 5 million customers in eight states.
Donica Creek, LLC, is working on getting commitments from Kansas-area landowners for the construction of an approximately 100 megawatt wind farm. If all goes as planned, construction of the 55 or 56 wind turbines will begin in the first quarter of 2011.
While the Crawford County Joint Board of Zoning Appeals had already heard a case for a height variance for a private wind turbine, Zoning Administrator Judy Freeman said that guidelines may have to be augmented.
Freeman said that current county zoning regulations do not address the construction of wind turbines, whether on a farm or just a single-use.
Today, state Rep. Tom McMillin of Michigan introduced a resolution (H.R. 277) urging his state's governor to withdraw Michigan from continued participation in the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord (MGGRA), an agreement among the region's governors to reduce greenhouse gases through a regional cap-and-trade program. ...nearby participating states intend to introduce similar measures in their own legislatures.
With no public opposition voiced Wednesday night, the Ellis County Joint Planning Commission recommended approval of a conditional-use permit for the installation of 18 wind turbines for Hays Wind LLC.
The turbines have been relocated since Hays Wind's previous CUP application in 2008 as the result of mediation of a lawsuit involving neighboring landowners.
Currently, Hays regulations do not allow wind turbines taller than 125 feet within three miles of city limits. The FHSU wind turbines would be built in a large field area used for agricultural studies.
Differing from a suggestion submitted by the Ellis County Joint Planning Commission last month, Commissioner Perry Henman proposed a 10-times-the-tip-height setback from rural dwellings in order to eliminate the need for noise regulations in wind energy conversion systems.
"If we do that, I would be satisfied if the county didn't regulate noise," Henman said.
No one voiced outright opposition to the construction of a 345,000-volt power line, but residents along the way raised several questions and concerns.
More than 100 people turned out Monday night in Stockton for a two-phase public hearing into the second phase of a massive power line project stretching from Hays to the Nebraska border. The first half of the meeting was informal, while the second half took on a more court-like appearance, with speakers sworn in by a court reporter who took down everything that was said.
More than 60 landowners in southwest Ellis County and southeast Trego County have organized to market their land for wind development.
The group, which calls itself Butterfield Wind, is working with Bannister Capital Advisors, headed up locally by attorney and Fort Hays State University dean Mark Bannister.
As the result of a settlement last year involving Hays Wind, Ellis County and 21 plaintiffs, 15 turbines in the project area had to be relocated.
Hays Wind, owned by Iberdrola Renewables, has proposed 18 turbines in its permit application, but is requesting approval of only 15, according to spokeswoman Jan Johnson.
The commission agreed to recommend a setback from wind turbines of 1,000 feet from participating residences and 2,000 feet from non-participating residences near a wind project. The latter differed from a recommendation by county commissioner Glenn Diehl, who had suggested a 1-mile setback.
"I understand trying to protect residences," Planning Commission Chairman Bill Poland said. "I think we can come to a compromise.
A wind-energy trade group is blasting a federal regulatory decision that will let Westar Energy impose additional charges on wind producers when the renewable energy is exported to other states.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the charges, saying they were just and reasonable to help Westar manage wind power on the electric grid.
The Ellis County Commission unanimously approved road maintenance, payment-in-lieu-of-taxes and decommissioning agreements between the county and Hays Wind LLC on Monday night.
All three agreements are pending approval by Hays Wind representatives. ...The PILOT replaces property tax collection on the project, which is exempt under state law.
Sunflower Wind's suit claims Arlwin manufactured blades for three tublines, two of which were installed in Lane County and the third in Smith County. On Nov. 4, the suit alleges, Sunflower Wind removed the blades from one turbine in Lane County and learned the blades were "severely cracked."
Ellis County commissioners said Monday night they would meet in open session with Counselor Dennis Davidson at next week's meeting to discuss a few final details with decommissioning, road maintenance and payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements.
"We're at the point now where we know what we need as a county," Commission Chairman Perry Henman said.
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.