Library from Kansas
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.
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.
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.