Library from Kansas
After years of discussion and a lengthy legal battle, it appears Ellis County soon could be home to a 200-megawatt wind farm. In a unanimous decision, the Ellis County Commission today approved a settlement in the case of Davis v. Ellis County regarding a proposed project southwest of Hays. The agreement holds that the conditional-use permit commissioners granted for the project is lawful and enforceable, meaning the wind farm could proceed.
A high-voltage power line unlike any seen this side of the Mississippi River soon could be striding across southwestern Kansas. Cable bundles as thick as pickup tires and bearing 765,000 volts would bind the ever-more-productive wind fields of Kansas to outside markets. The project, estimated to be worth up to $800 million, is still up for grabs between two competing groups that could get the lines up and humming by 2013. ...Nearly 1,012 megawatts from wind turbines will be available by the end of 2009, but 7,000 megawatts are proposed for western Kansas by 2030.
An energy company hoping to establish a wind farm in Pratt County will have to keep its 400-foot towers about three and a half miles from approaches to the Pratt Industrial Airport, but that news should come as no surprise to Indeck Energy Services.
A blown transformer that has idled scores of wind turbines at the Smoky Hills Wind Farm for about four months is expected to be replaced soon. "If all goes well, it should be online in the next couple weeks," said Cinthia Hertel, a spokeswoman for Sunflower Electric Power Corporation, one of the utilities with contracts to receive power from the wind farm, which is located along Interstate Highway 70 at the Ellsworth/Lincoln county line.
Much of the discussion at a wind energy forum Tuesday night at Fort Hays State University revolved around the same arguments both proponents and opponents of the alternative energy in Ellis County have maintained all along. The one thing the forum's three panelists could agree on was that reducing energy consumption is needed.
Nikki Schwerdfeger won't believe it until she sees the blades spinning. The Hamilton County landowner remains cautiously optimistic about the proposed 135-megawatt wind farm about to be developed near her rural Coolidge home. One of the landowners who signed a lease for erecting wind turbines on their property, she has yet to learn if any of the around 90, 262-foot-tall turbines will spin on her land.
The SunZia transmission line that would link sun and wind power from central New Mexico with cities in Arizona is just the sort of energy project an environmentalist could love -- or hate. And it is just the sort of line the Interior Department has been tasked with promoting -- or guarding against. If built, the 460-mile line would carry about 3,000 megawatts of power, enough to avoid the need for a handful of coal-fired plants and to help utilities meet mandated targets for use of renewable fuel.
The greater prairie chicken of eastern Kansas has been declining with the encroachment of man. Roads have broken up vast rangeland, as well as oil wells, wind farms and cell phone towers. Cedars and other trees and shrubs have invaded their territory. Suburban development also is a factor as a growing number of residents buy small parcels of land to build a home.
Ellis County Commission Chairman Perry Henman doesn't deny he has been in contact with wind developers in Ellis County. But one county resident believes the activity has been "very prejudicial" and makes it look as though Henman is "asking for a special favor." ...Invenergy Project Manager Will Furgeson said his "abstract" conversation with Henman occurred more than a month ago.
At Thursday's Hays City Commission meeting, commissioners approved an ordinance regulating wind energy development. The ordinance allows turbines with a maximum height of 125 feet within the 3-mile radius. However, this provision could delay Fort Hays State University's plans to develop a 5-megawatt project on state-owned land near the edge of the city-governed 3-mile zoning area.
A century ago prairie chickens may have been the most common wild bird on the High Plains. Today's lesser prairie chicken population is thought to be just 3 percent of what it was a century ago. Wildlife experts say the reason is simple: native grasslands are disappearing and without the habitat they need, prairie chickens are dying off. ...And now wind turbines threaten to blanket parts of the grassland.
At Thursday's 5:30 p.m. Hays City Commission work session, commissioners will consider approving an ordinance regulating wind energy development. The drafted zoning regulations have been submitted by the Hays Area Planning Commission, which has been working on the document since last April. A current moratorium on wind energy development was established to give the planning commission time to develop the regulations.
Wind turbines in Kansas could be taxed by the state and local governments under legislation supported Friday by a group of western Kansas officials. A bill before the House Taxation Committee would eliminate the lifetime property tax exemption granted in 1998 to renewable energy resources and technologies. The Kansas Legislative Policy Group, a coalition of 30 county commissions in western Kansas, offered the sole testimony in support of the change Friday.
After nearly a year's work, the Hays Area Planning Commission recommended approval of its drafted wind energy regulations in a 6-0 vote Monday evening. The document will proceed to the Hays City Commission for discussion at the March 5 work session. ...The regulations also state that no turbine taller than 125 feet would be allowed within city limits, which includes the 3-mile zone. In residential zoned districts, maximum tower height would be 45 feet.
Representatives of British Petroleum Wind Energy are wooing Pratt County farmers to use their land for development of a possible wind farm in Pratt County while BP is finishing preparations to put their Flat Ridge Wind Farm with 40 wind turbines into operation in Barber County.
A House committee endorsed a bill Thursday that ties two proposed coal-fired power plants in southwest Kansas to proposals for promoting wind and other renewable energy sources. Supporters used the same strategy last year in an unsuccessful effort to clear the way for the coal plants despite Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' opposition.
Ellis County commissioners discussed the possibility of implementing a moratorium on wind development in the county again Monday. Commissioner Glenn Diehl reiterated he would not support a long-term moratorium. "There's no way I'm going to impact any ... future projects," Diehl said. "It would have to be extremely short-term if we decide on one -- less than six months."
Two Kansas House of Representative bills being heard in the committee on energy and utilities have sparked opposition by local government officials. House bills 2043 and 2051, dealing with the regulation of wind and solar energy, would allow developers to build renewable energy plants without regard for already-established local zoning regulations.
Every Landowner should know that a wind farm lease may damage and limit the use of one's own ground.
ITC Great Plains has revised its route for a proposed transmission line running through Ellis County, but it's not due to the location of a proposed wind project in the area. After the company received public input in December, it opted to change its preferred route to run farther west than originally anticipated. The line would run through the proposed Hays Wind LLC project west of Yocemento Road.