Library from Kansas
State Senate Utilities Committee Chairman Mike Thompson said Wednesday that he is trying to protect landowners who fear that a proliferation of large turbines in their rural areas will drop property values and harm their quality of life. Thompson, a conservative Shawnee Republican, is pursuing a bill that would impose statewide regulations limiting turbines to one per square mile and keeping them 1.5 miles from any home or public building.
Wind now cranks up more kilowatts than any other power source in the state of Kansas. Yet even as towering turbines and their slow-churning blades come to increasingly define the Kansas landscape, a counter movement seems to take hold.
Anderson County resident Mike Burns ripped pages of his prepared speech in half Monday to speak from the heart about why Kansas had to pass a law regulating placement of wind farms to protect property rights and bring peace of mind to folks in rural areas attractive to developers. Burns joined dozens of people at the Capitol eager to testify on behalf of Senate Bill 279, which would establish state-crafted regulation of wind generation facilities from the turbine to power line. It would replace county commission preferences for or against wind farms with state law defining turbine setbacks from businesses, parks, homes, property lines and much more. The maximum density would be one turbine per square mile, well below the current standard. There would be caps on sound and light emitted by turbines that sometimes reach 500 feet into the sky.
Board delays decision on adoption at least another two weeks
“We made a business decision to take a step back from some of our current leases,” he said. “Some were terminated, but now we’re back, and we’re going to start the process all over again.” Scheffler said some of the properties leased for the project four years ago will not be pursued because of restrictions by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Defense. Much of the area affected by those restrictions is in Washington County, he said.
County commissioners approved amendments to chapter 27 of the planning and zoning commission’s 2018 wind farm overlay district at Monday’s meeting.
Sometimes it takes an outsider to appreciate what we here take for granted, to see what our eyes and our minds fail to grasp: the Flint Hills of Kansas are a national treasure. ...Gov. Kathleen Sebelius first promulgated such a moratorium in 2004, which was then continued and expanded by Gov. Sam Brownback. On July 28, 2020, Gov. Kelly issued her proclamation, thus continuing bipartisan protection of this endangered ecosystem.
In March, Stonebridge applied for building permits to start construction. The planning and zoning department denied building permits because zoning administrator Sharon Omstead deemed the applications insufficient. The county implemented a sunset clause in 2018 that terminated previously-approved conditional use permits on if the company did not apply for construction permits by April 1.
Pretty Prairie Wind LLC, a subsidiary formed by NextEra Energy to develop an 82-turbine wind farm in the southeast quadrant of the county, filed the suit in July 2019 after it failed to obtain a conditional use permit to build the project.
Linn County Commissioners on Monday extended a moratorium on the development of wind farms in the county until December 2021, saying the additional time would allow the county time to collect public opinion on wind development via an advisory vote or survey.
The lawsuit against Reno County by Pretty Prairie Wind will continue in the local district court after Judge Tim Chambers on Wednesday issued an order denying a motion by the developer for an immediate appeal on an earlier ruling in the case.
Limits on noise and shadow flicker would determine how close a turbine could be to a home — rather than set distances — in a draft of proposed commercial wind energy regulations reviewed by the Reno County Planning Commission last week.
Gov. Laura Kelly announced a proclamation reaffirming the Tallgrass Heartland wind moratorium region of the Flint Hills on World Nature Conservation Day. ...“The Tallgrass Heartland moratorium helps conserve Kansas’ unique prairie ecosystem, vital to native wildlife, tourism, education and local ranching economies,” Kelly said. “There has been bipartisan consensus across administrations that these lands should be protected, and I’m pleased to follow in that tradition today.”
After nearly an hour in executive session with lawyers, commissioners voted unanimously Monday to have staff prepare documents seeking to collect road repair money from Diamond Vista wind farm. Wichita lawyer Pat Hughes, originally hired as a county consultant for dealing with the wind farm, was retained to handle future action against Diamond Vista.
The Reno County Planning Commission agreed after about a 90-minute public hearing on Thursday to amend county zoning regulations on commercial wind developments. A majority of the evening’s two dozen speakers asked the commission to adopt a 21-page draft document submitted by Reno County Citizens for Qualify of Life that included significant additions and modifications to current regulations.
A spokesperson for NextEra said they have done plenty of communicating. The company is going to property owners and offering to pay to use their land to build wind turbines. They said they have support in the community and says the anti-wind activists are a small group.
A Reno County judge recently ruled on a key element in a lawsuit filed by NextEra Energy over the denial of a permit for its proposed wind farm in the southeast quadrant of Reno County, finding in favor of the county and wind farm opponents. It was not the only issue in the suit, however, so the lawsuit continues.
After unsuccessfully trying to get copies of commissioner Dianne Novak’s personal emails with an open records request, a wind farm concerned about her possible role in aiding its opponents says it will subpoena those emails from her directly. Expedition Wind last month filed a lawsuit seeking more than $35 million from Peabody farmer Randy Eitzen and five other defendants. The defendants are plaintiffs who did not withdraw from a lawsuit filed last August against the county.
The project is listed as “paused” on a federal review website, even after Orsted earlier this year filed an updated construction and operation plan for the facility. Orsted and other East Coast wind farm developers have been awaiting a federal review of the “cumulative” impacts of offshore wind by the federal Bureau of Energy Management to determine how it may affect commercial fishing and shipping industries.
Conlan Kennedy, NextEra communication specialist, said the turbine was damaged the night of April 16. Members of a NextEra wind technician team said there was a big storm in the area that night and the team was investigating the possibility of a lightning strike but the cause is still under investigation, Kennedy said.