Library from Kansas
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.
More than 50 people, most of them wind proponents, gathered at the Ellis County Commission meeting Monday to hear discussions about a possible moratorium on wind developments in the county. At the Jan. 19 meeting, commissioners indicated they would like to discuss implementing a moratorium on applications for wind projects in Ellis County in order to get their zoning regulations finalized and a comprehensive plan in place. On Monday, Commissioner Vernon Berens backed off his immediate support for a moratorium.
Plaintiffs seeking to overturn a conditional use permit granted to allow development of a wind farm southwest of Hays have filed a motion for summary judgment in district court. The motion, filed Tuesday, includes the plaintiff's legal interpretations as to why granting the permit was legally unsound on the part of the Ellis County Commissioners, who granted the permit last summer in a 2-1 vote.
Two key power providers backed legislation Wednesday that would require Kansas utilities to invest in wind and other renewable energy sources. Westar Energy, the state's largest investor-owned utility, and Sunflower Electric Power Corp., a Hays-based rural electric cooperative, both testified in support of the mandate.
At Monday's meeting of the Hays Area Planning Commission, the board voted 5-3 to ban all wind energy towers more than 125 feet tall within Hays city limits. This restriction pertains to land in the city-governed 3-mile radius surrounding town, in which construction of commercial turbines about 400 feet tall already have been proposed in conjunction with the proposed Ellis County project.
The Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition has requested Ellis County withdraw the conditional-use permit it granted to Hays Wind LLC last year for a wind project southwest of Hays. ECEAC also requested Monday that Ellis County commissioners implement a moratorium on other applications until a comprehensive plan is developed. "Our concern with approving the conditional-use application without a comprehensive plan really increased due to the fact that there are four other industrial wind projects in consideration for Ellis County," said Jeff Wick, who spoke on behalf of the group.
A new company has expressed interest in developing a wind project in Ellis County. TradeWind Energy, the developer of the Smoky Hill Wind Project in Lincoln and Ellsworth counties, has requested four conditional-use permits to build meteorological towers in the northeast part of the county. ...Any wind project developed in the area near the Saline River would be no less than 150 megawatts, Weigel said.
Earlier this year, approval of the 200-megawatt project was granted by local governing bodies, only to be tied up in district court. Following the county commission's 2-1 vote of approval in July, with commissioner Perry Henman dissenting, opponents of the project filed suit in district court in late August. Thus, the final verdict of whether or not the project will be constructed remains to be determined.
Legislators involved in energy policy are upset state regulators plan to take another year to decide which of two competing companies will build the region's highest-voltage power lines. The Republican chairmen and ranking Democrats on the House and Senate utilities committees said Friday that they are worried such a delay will prevent the development of wind farms.
At Monday's meeting, the Hays Area Planning Commission continued its work to draft an ordinance regulating wind energy development within city limits. As discussion continued, the issue of whether to require special-use permits for every project or to include accessory use provisions seemed to spur some disagreement. Commission representatives solicited input from Hays City Commissioners at last week's meeting, at which time an ordinance extending a moratorium on wind development was approved.
A major wind energy company is looking into building a wind farm northeast of Cheney Reservoir in Reno County. Horizon Wind Energy of Houston has met with landowners in the area and is in the process of mailing out initial offers for land leases, according to landowners.
At Thursday's Hays City Commission work session, commissioners discussed the possibility of extending a moratorium on wind development until April 1. The Hays Area Planning Commission has been working to develop guidelines regulating wind-energy development for about six months and has requested a time extension.
The commission voted unanimously to approve a resolution adopting an amendment to the county code that will lay out rules and regulations for wind farms that would produce energy for sale. The county code already allows for private wind facilities.
In response to protected airspace issues around the Pratt Industrial Airport, Indeck Energy Services will continue its efforts to develop a wind generation facility but in a different location. "We're still going to go ahead and try to develop a wind farm more to the west and north than where it was is light of the airport airspace," said Kent Goyen, area liaison for Indeck. Indeck's original proposal called for 100 towers each 400 feet tall within a 16,000-acre space northwest of Iuka.
The Saline County Commission on Tuesday cleared the way for commercial wind farms to operate within the county. ...The commission voted unanimously to approve a resolution adopting an amendment to the county code that will lay out rules and regulations for wind farms that would produce energy for sale. The county code already allows for private wind facilities.
In a unanimous vote Monday, the Hays Area Planning Commission approved a recommendation to indefinitely extend a moratorium on wind energy development within city limits. This recommendation will be presented to Hays city commissioners at a later date for final approval. Jesse Rohr, planning and development superintendent, suggested the recommendation for a moratorium extension of several months.
Legal proceedings have been postponed in a civil lawsuit challenging the Ellis County Commission's decision to approve a wind farm development southwest of Hays. According to Russell attorney Dennis Davidson, who represents the county commission, proceedings for a case management conference will continue at 3 p.m. Nov. 25. ...The process was postponed in light of a disagreement about how much evidence the plaintiffs are allowed to gather, he said.
An estimated 266 whoopers - the largest wild flock of endangered whooping cranes - will migrate from Wood Buffalo National Park in the Canadian Northwest Territories to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Gulf Coast of Texas this fall. This migration route takes them directly through the center of the Central Flyway ...threats to the flock, including water and land development in Texas, wind farm construction in the migration corridor, and tar sands waste ponds in Canada all increased in 2008.
In recent weeks, though, energy experts have also noted that a squeeze in credit and collapsing oil and natural gas prices, both byproducts of a worldwide financial crisis, could stifle the further growth of renewable energy. Industry observers and companies operating in the state, however, say the chances are good that the production of wind power will keep growing in Kansas. ...Tighter credit markets could make it more difficult for wind developers to secure financing for their projects. Plus, lower natural gas prices could give utilities less incentive to invest in wind turbines, some renewable energy boosters fear.
Imagine an interstate highway stretching from Wichita west to Dodge City, then heading south-southwest from Medicine Lodge to the Kansas/Oklahoma line. Then replace that image with a high-voltage energy transmission line that will become part of a multi-state "super highway," designed to help Kansas access power markets ...Kansas' wind farms are driving the need for high-voltage lines that will allow the state to access other power markets, said Kelly Harrison, vice president for transmission operations and environmental services for Westar.