Articles filed under General from Kansas
Hays - Jacinta Faber is just the kind of person you would picture advocating wind energy. She and her family buy organic food, recycle and even use low-flow toilets to conserve water. While Faber likes the concept of wind energy, she doesn't particularly like the idea of the almost 400-foot-tall wind turbines looming on a ridge about 2,000 feet from her house southwest of Hays. She fears there could be health repercussions from the constant noise of the low-frequency whooping sound that the spinning turbines make and the strobelike effect from the blades' shadows.
Yesterday morning, Wednesday, June 20th, on the second floor of the Ellis County Court House, history was made: Citizens brought in the first ever protest petition since the county's adoption of zoning regulations and procedures. The protest petition was submitted by the Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition, ECEAC, to Alberta Klaus, County Clerk. The purpose of the protest petition is to allow citizens to express opposition to the land use application submitted by CPV Wind Hays for the construction of a wind project south and west of Prairie Acres.
Wind farm advocate and beneficiary Pete Ferrell had one message Thursday night for supporters of the Ellis County wind farm proposal: Make an effort to win hearts and minds now... • On noise: "I can hear the turbines from my home, and I didn't expect to (Ferrell's home is 1 mile from the nearest wind turbine). The odd thing is that I can hear it on days when it's not blowing that hard. When it's blowing hard, the wind covers the sound. It sounds like a river in the distance."... • On construction of the wind farm: "It was very hard. OK, it was a nightmare. Thank God it was professional done and it was over in six months."
The Ellis County Clerk's office was a full house late Wednesday morning as about 15 Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition members gathered to submit petitions protesting the proposed Ellis County windfarm development. Wednesday at 5 p.m. was the deadline for people who own land within 1,000 feet of the affected area to file a formal protest petition. These petitions object to the recommendation of approval Ellis County Planning and Zoning commissioners made to the county commission June 6 regarding a conditional-use permit application filed by Competitive Power Ventures. "I'm just glad the petitions are in place," said ECEAC member Keith Pfannenstiel.
Wind farm opponents aren't the only ones who have been preparing a petition. Iberdrola project manager Krista Gordon submitted a petition of 1,439 signatures to the Ellis County Clerk's office Monday morning.
Regardless of the fact it will be detrimental to the residents of a small neighborhood, affect the landscape for a quarter of a century, won't reduce the usage of fossil fuels much, if any, and the many other reasons the zoning board could have used to make the decision to tell the salesmen no that just wouldn't have been thinking big. You've got to think big. And even if it all fails, oh well, the Ellis County grade-schoolers of today can clean it up in 25 years. Maybe you should ask them.
Wind farm opponents mean business, and they've secured the services of a Wichita attorney and are discussing what action to take after the Ellis County Commission votes either to approve or deny the conditional-use permit requested by Competitive Power Ventures. The Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition, a group organized in opposition to the proposed project, is prepared to support the county commissioners in a vote of denial, said ECEAC co-chairman Tim Davis at a meeting Monday evening. The coalition also is preparing for a lawsuit in the event of commission approval, he said.
It is expected that a protest petition, the first filed since Ellis County adopted countywide zoning in August, will be submitted to the county clerk's office this week. Opponents to the proposed Ellis County wind project have been collecting signatures since March - the deadline for filing the petitions is 5 p.m. Wednesday. "It's the only tool we have," said Pat Bittel, co-secretary of the Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition, a group formed in opposition to the wind project. "The protest petition is a form of democracy."
The Ellis County Commission should be cognizant by now of the depth and strength of opposition to the wind energy project from those members of the community who would be most affected by it. We continue to educate the community of Hays and collect signatures on our petition for a moratorium, based on the fact that there has been no qualified, independent assessment of either the economic or the environmental impact of this project in its proposed location.
The burdens of this wind turbine project, then, do not fall equally upon all members of society, nor do they fall in rough proportion as the benefits upon those who do stand to gain from the project. Furthermore, those upon whom the burdens fall are not an all-volunteer army. No one who built or bought residential property in the area west of Hays had any idea that they were possibly taking on the burden of health and safety risks and so on. Thus, this project is unfair. If the project is built as it is presently proposed, the non-leasing people who live near the project will bear the greatest share of the burdens without sharing in the benefits in a similar proportion.
For local, heartfelt stories and more information regarding wind turbine issues refer to elliscoalition.blogspot.com. We all need to be educated about this project. Let's keep wind turbines away from families in our community. What is the purpose of the Ellis County Planning Commission? Be consistent and fair when making wise decisions that promote health, safety, comfort and general welfare of the citizens in Ellis County.
Now those concerned about prairie chickens wonder whether a competing and more commercially marketable sound - that of the wind - will impact the chickens' booming. Research being conducted in this area under the direction of KSU biology professors Samantha Wisely and Brett Sandercock seeks to determine how the development of wind energy might impact prairie chickens.
The clock continues to tick for protesters of the proposed Ellis County wind project as no additional time was granted to file a protest petition.
Why are they willing to pit neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend, family against family? Is it all in the name of being earth-friendly and wanting to lessen our dependency on fossil fuel? Or is it the almighty dollar rearing its ugly head speaking loudly and clearly? Sadly to say, I believe it is the latter. Let the Ellis County community stand together and be able to say that we fought big corporate business and won.
I welcomed zoning to Ellis County. It was supposedly established for the protection, safety and well-being of the citizens of Ellis County. Now I find out differently. The regulations written for the wind project were written in a way to favor commercial interest and not for the citizen's protection, safety or well- being. Now who should be scolded? The final example was when one of the commissioners recalled his eighth grade science teacher's prescient thoughts concerning the role of sun and wind to help meet our energy needs. Too bad he was not also taught about proper setbacks for turbines, sound travel, property devaluation for homes near turbines, and honesty in establishing industry in Ellis County.
Discussion of the proposed wind farm development surfaced twice throughout the approximately five-hour meeting. Catherine resident John Schmeidler had been on the agenda to address the board May 29 but was not listed on Monday's agenda. In an insert item, Schmeidler discussed concerns about the protest petition relating to the conditional-use permit filed by wind developers for the proposed Ellis County project. "A couple of things have come up," Schmeidler said. "As you know, I met with you on April the second and asked a bunch of questions and hoped to get some answers. Those have not been forthcoming."
After two public hearing meetings and about five hours of public presentations, the Ellis County Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval of the conditional-use permit and development plan for the proposed wind farm southwest of Hays following less than 20 minutes of discussion Wednesday night. The recommendation of approval, which passed 6-1, now will pass to the Ellis County Commission for a final decision.
The public hearing for a conditional-use zoning permit filed by Competitive Power Ventures in March will resume this week. The Ellis County Planning and Zoning Commission will begin deliberation regarding the proposed wind project at 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Ellis County Fairgrounds Gold Building.
A kilowatt-hour of electricity generated in Kansas costs significantly less than the national average but contributes much more to global warming than power generated in most other states. It shouldn't be a surprise that those two facts are connected. Three-fourths of the electricity generated in the Sunflower State comes from coal-fired plants, and coal is the go-to fuel for supplying electricity around-the-clock because it is readily available and cheap. But Kansas ranks among the top 10 states in utilities' carbon dioxide emissions per person.
Wendy Todd, a resident of Mars Hill, Maine, and her husband, Perrin, live about 2,600 feet away from one of the 28 turbines that compose the Mars Hill Wind Farm, Wendy Todd said. Todd's story is one opponents to the Ellis County wind project have referenced. When her family first heard about plans for construction of the project in 2006, they were not led to anticipate problems, she said. "We thought we had asked all the right questions. We thought ‘if we can deal with the visual aspect and get through the construction phase, we'll be all set,' " Todd said. "There was never any mention of strobing, shadow flicker was never even mentioned. The noise issues were put on the back burner almost immediately." However, she and her husband have been battling these issues, particularly the noise, which Todd said varies with the wind speed.