Library from Kansas
Wind power is booming -- at the moment. Companies are flocking to build turbine and blade plants in the United States, such as the one Siemens will build in Hutchinson. The amount of energy harvested from wind rose 50 percent last year to 25,300 megawatts. For the people in the ethanol industry, it must sound sadly like deja vu.
Two of the primary issues that have held back development of home or community-based turbines, industry experts say, are cost and regulation. Recent legislation has addressed each in part, but barriers remain. ..."We like the thoughts of wind turbines, but are opposed to law," said Bob Hall, manager of Ark Valley Electric Cooperative, saying it's unfair to the majority of its member customers and unreliable as an energy source.
The message Thursday evening was loud and clear: Adjustments need to be made to the location of a proposed power line stretching from Spearville to Hays. The reasons for moving the lines varied, however, from aesthetics to interfering with a proposed wind farm in central Rush County. It was just as clear that landowners don't consider a one-time, up-front lump payment for easements as fair.
Plaintiffs contacted by The Hays Daily News, however, say they have not signed the document, with at least one implying their intent is to do so. While some question has been posed as to whether the county commission should have made the document public before the other signatures were obtained, Davidson said it was within the county's rights to take action.
In a unanimous decision at Monday's meeting, Ellis County Commissioners endorsed terms of settlement in a lawsuit regarding a wind farm southwest of Hays. While commissioners said the settlement could bring closure to the hotly disputed wind farm controversy, lawsuit plaintiffs might not be so sure.
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.
This useful paper examines the impact of wind turbine development on species habitat use. In particular, this paper focuses on bird species residing in American grasslands. The abstract of the paper is provided below. The full paper can be downloaded from the links on this page.
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.