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Local energy debate blowing in the wind

When an Appanoose woman sought to erect a wind-power generator at her home a year ago, Larry Walrod, county planner, discovered there were no regulations regarding the generators and their towers. To allow her to put up a tower, planners had to design a backdoor path to grant her a special use permit through a provision that allows utilities to operate in the county. The procedure spurred several inquiries from other people interested in putting up their own wind generators, Walrod said. ...Few counties in Kansas have rules one way or another concerning wind-generators and, for the most part, are concerned with giant commercial wind farms, such as those in western Kansas, Walrod said.

Will county allow home wind-power generators?

Finding a way to seize the breeze in the trees will be the point of a public hearing by the Franklin County Planning Commission Thursday.

The hearing will give Franklin Countians a chance to weigh in on rules for home wind-power generators. The hearing will seek comments on the proposed rules during the county planners' meeting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Franklin County Office Annex, 1418 S. Main St., Ottawa.

When an Appanoose woman sought to erect a wind-power generator at her home a year ago, Larry Walrod, county planner, discovered there were no regulations regarding the generators and their towers.

To allow her to put up a tower, planners had to design a backdoor path to grant her a special use permit through a provision that allows utilities to operate in the county.

The procedure spurred several inquiries from other people interested in putting up their own wind generators, Walrod said.

"You have to recognize this is a way to use a renewable energy and moving in that direction is a positive thing for the county," he said. "At the same time, you have to realize there are some drawbacks."

Although the wind generators have improved in both efficiency... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Will county allow home wind-power generators?

Finding a way to seize the breeze in the trees will be the point of a public hearing by the Franklin County Planning Commission Thursday.

The hearing will give Franklin Countians a chance to weigh in on rules for home wind-power generators. The hearing will seek comments on the proposed rules during the county planners' meeting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Franklin County Office Annex, 1418 S. Main St., Ottawa.

When an Appanoose woman sought to erect a wind-power generator at her home a year ago, Larry Walrod, county planner, discovered there were no regulations regarding the generators and their towers.

To allow her to put up a tower, planners had to design a backdoor path to grant her a special use permit through a provision that allows utilities to operate in the county.

The procedure spurred several inquiries from other people interested in putting up their own wind generators, Walrod said.

"You have to recognize this is a way to use a renewable energy and moving in that direction is a positive thing for the county," he said. "At the same time, you have to realize there are some drawbacks."

Although the wind generators have improved in both efficiency and performance, the high initial cost of buying and putting up the wind generator has discouraged people from using them more often, he said.

However, if the state or federal government offers tax credits, there will be a rush to install the generators, he said.

Besides cutting home energy costs, by law, if people generate surplus electricity from their generators, the utilities have to buy it from them, providing a little bit of cash as well, he said.

If the number of home generators sharply increase, "I'm sure it will have such a big impact on the big utility companies we'll see some changes in the law," Walrod said. "It will come full circle."

Few counties in Kansas have rules one way or another concerning wind-generators and, for the most part, are concerned with giant commercial wind farms, such as those in western Kansas, Walrod said.

Franklin County's proposed rules are based on rules adopted by Saline County, Walrod said.

According to the proposed rules, residential wind generators would have to meet height limits and be located on tracts at least 40 acres, with one generator allowed per 40 acres for larger lots.

A homeowner would need to get a special-use permit to put a generator on tracts of 20 to 40 acres, he said.

No generators would be allowed on lots smaller than 20 acres, he said.

That's because the generators would have to be set back from property lines at least twice the total height of the generator and tower, he said.

The setbacks are designed to mitigate the impact of noise from the generators to neighbors, he said.

"There is a small amount of noise associated with the wind generators," Walrod said.

Recent studies indicate there could be health problems for people who live next to commercial wind farms because of the constant low-level noise from the generators, he said.

"You wouldn't want to see 80 generators over a small subdivision," he said.

The Franklin County rules don't address commercial wind farms such as those in central and western Kansas. A Johnson County company has also announced it plans to put a commercial wind farm in southeast Anderson County.

However, wind patterns and topography of most of Franklin County isn't conducive to commercial wind farms and Walrod said he doubts the subject would come up.

"That doesn't mean it wouldn't happen," Walrod said.

Parts of extreme southeastern Franklin County might be more promising as commercial wind power expands, he said.

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Source: http://www.ottawaherald.com...

APR 17 2008
http://www.windaction.org/posts/14487-local-energy-debate-blowing-in-the-wind
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