Library from Kansas

Commissioners consider no zoning

Countywide zoning -- and the possibility of rescinding it -- was discussed by Ellis County Commissioners on Monday morning. Chairman Dennis Pfannenstiel, who attended last week's planning commission meeting, expressed concerns about current zoning issues. "To me, countywide zoning is just causing nothing but trouble," he said. "At the meeting the other night, they accomplished nothing. All that got done was bickering.
2 Apr 2008

Getting ready for the 'Big Wind'

A large group of people gathered in Reading Tuesday evening to hear a presentation about wind energy. The panel of speakers included proponents and opponents of wind energy and people who were neutral on the issue. City and county officials from both Lyon and Osage Counties were present and helped organize the meeting, which was moderated by Lyon County Commission Chairman Scott Briggs. ...Wind energy will not lessen the country's dependence on oil, Bacon said. "The fact is that the U.S. uses less than three percent of its oil on electricity," she said. "Kansas uses less than one percent." Like Porter, Bacon cautioned landowners when it comes to leases. She said if landowners decide to sign a lease, they need to make sure they consult an attorney who has experience in wind energy leases. "This is a big-boy's game," she said. "Once you step into the wind world, you're not in Kansas anymore, figuratively speaking ... this is a very, very complex, intertwined business." Bacon talked about land impact regarding wind turbines and wind fields. Substantial roads have to be built, she said, with freight up to 100 tons. There has to be reliable electricity on site to power the turbines, which have to have a light on them and are run by a computer. "Wind turbines not only produce energy but will use energy," she said.
2 Apr 2008

Proposed zoning revisions bring applause, tension

The board heard from three individuals who had prepared suggestions to revise the current zoning document, which was approved by the county commission in 2006. "I would just like to thank the people that put the time in to do it," Commissioner Gary Luea said following the presentations, as the audience burst into applause. There also were moments of tension, as commissioners began to review a proposal submitted by J.P. Michaud presented last month regarding zoning regulations for wind farms. ...The changes proposed by Michaud on behalf of the Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition also suggest setback distances of 1 mile from inhabited structures, and state noise emissions should not exceed 40 decibels for any period of time.
27 Mar 2008

Energy bill supporters wary of Sebelius' deal

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius continues to offer a deal to allow one of two proposed coal-fired units in southwest Kansas as a way to resolve a dispute over energy legislation. But the utility hoping to expand its power plant rejected her proposal weeks ago. And legislators who support the company remain skeptical that the governor's offer is genuine. ...The governor said she would accept construction of one unit if Sunflower committed to developing additional wind power, new conservation programs and capturing and storing carbon dioxide emissions. "The framework of this proposal seeks to find a middle ground between all parties concerned," she said, calling her plan "reasonable and sensible" in scope.
23 Mar 2008

Governor's veto halts energy bill

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed the coal plant bill with an anticlimactic penstroke Friday as supporters of the measure considered another route to gaining approval for the giant project in western Kansas. Sebelius said the legislation, which allows expansion of a coal-fired power plant outside Holcomb and restricts the authority of the state's top environmental regulator, would have allowed too much carbon dioxide pollution. ...Supporters of the bill said the veto put the economic and energy needs of western Kansas in jeopardy. "Not allowing clean coal technology to be part of Kansas' energy future will result in a devastating increase in the average Kansan's electric bill," said Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton.
22 Mar 2008

Let us see the stars

We need to adopt a new way of thinking for the prairie land that sustains us. Our prairie isn't a waste dump to place a huge, monetarily motivated, (supposedly) economically stimulating thing that defaces it of its natural beauty and hampers the land's usefulness. ...Might I appeal to all fellow prairie landowners to look about this endless simple beauty and say, "You can't pay me enough!" when approached to lease for a commercial wind farm.
16 Mar 2008

Let us see the stars

We need to adopt a new way of thinking for the prairie land that sustains us. Our prairie isn't a waste dump to place a huge, monetarily motivated, (supposedly) economically stimulating thing that defaces it of its natural beauty and hampers the land's usefulness. ...Might I appeal to all fellow prairie landowners to look about this endless simple beauty and say, "You can't pay me enough!" when approached to lease for a commercial wind farm.
15 Mar 2008

Wind does not negate need for coal

At a recent public meeting, someone said I was opposed to electricity produced by coal, nuclear, and hydro-as well as wind. Moreover, I was reminded that I was off the mark by saying wind technology could not prevent new conventional power plants from being built to meet increasing demand, pointing to a recent Parade magazine article reporting the governor of Kansas was building a 1000MW wind facility, obviating the need for a new coal plant. Here's reality. ...
14 Mar 2008

Residents propose zoning changes

About a year after the possibility of an Ellis County wind farm divided the community, there was talk of compromise at Wednesday's planning and zoning commission meeting. As part of a process to review and possibly revamp zoning regulations, the board heard from residents who had suggested changes to the county document. "It has to be a mutual consensus, a reasonable consensus, for all of the parties involved," said J.P. Michaud, who proposed a replacement document for the wind energy guidelines. "We're just trying to initiate a debate here that's going to be a reasonable compromise for the whole community."
28 Feb 2008

Rare birds could be threatened by growth of wind farms

Whooping cranes, one of the world's rarest birds, have waged a valiant battle against extinction. But federal officials warn of a new potential threat to the endangered whoopers: wind farms. Down to as few as 16 in 1941, the gargantuan birds that migrate 2,400 miles each fall from Canada to Texas, thanks to conservation efforts, now number about 266. But because wind energy, one of the fastest growing sources of renewable energy, has gained such traction, whooping cranes could again be at risk - from either crashing into the towering wind turbines and transmission lines or because of habitat lost to the wind farms. "Basically you can overlay the strongest, best areas for wind turbine development with the whooping crane migration corridor," said Tom Stehn, whooping crane coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
27 Feb 2008

Next step: hashing out energy bill

Yet another bill on coal-fired electricity surged toward an expected showdown between a majority of legislators and Gov. Kathleen Sebelius Tuesday. On a 77-45 vote, the House sent the Senate its version of a bill to help Sunflower Electric Power Corp. of Hays obtain a permit to build two coal-burning plants next to an existing one in Finney County. ...The bill has a renewable portfolio standard requiring utilities to produce 5 percent of their energy from renewable power by 2010 and 10 percent by 2020. McKinney also said the bill opens the door for net metering for solar power in Kansas. That would allow owners of solar panels to receive credit on their utility bills for excess power generated from their panels.
21 Feb 2008

KCP & L defers plans for wind farm

Kansas City Power & Light has tabled plans to build in 2008 its second 100-megawatt wind farm, citing difficulties in getting financing. The wind farm was promised by KCP&L as part of a comprehensive energy plan that included the coal-fired Iatan 2 plant, under construction near Weston. The plan, announced last March by the utility and the Sierra Club, was hailed as the first of its kind and included building 400 megawatts of wind energy by 2012. The utility, which this week acknowledged construction cost overruns at Iatan 2, is putting off the wind project at a time when other utilities are stepping up their wind-energy construction. The decision also means KCP&L won't take advantage of federal wind energy tax credits that expire at the end of the year.
21 Feb 2008

Area school superintendents told wind energy not for every school

The best payoff for wind energy isn't in putting up a bunch of turbines, generating way more power than you'll ever use and selling juice back to the power company. Rather, it's in generating just a portion of your total power consumption, at least so long as power companies buy power at a fraction of what they charge for it. ...Brown explained that building enough generating capacity to run a school and selling back any excess power isn't really viable in Kansas right now because of the low rates utilities pay for that power.
21 Feb 2008

Assessment of wind power economics in Kansas: 2015-2035

2008_wind_report_exec_sum_thumb Executive Summary of a document prepared by the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) which discusses the cost/benefit of deploying wind turbines to meet the Kansas Governor's challenge “to have 1,000 megawatts of renewable energy capacity installed in Kansas by 2015.” Included below are sections 0.80 and 0.90 of the executive summary. The full document can be accessed by clicking on one of the below links.
20 Feb 2008

House unlikely to stop veto; Roll call vote expected today on energy bill

The Senate last week passed by a veto-proof majority a bill opening a door to the 1,400-megawatt expansion of the Holcomb facility owned by Sunflower Electric Power Corp. A roll call vote today in the House would determine if 84 votes exist in the chamber to protect its version from Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' veto pen. After a three-hour debate Monday, the House gave tentative approval to its energy bill 73-45. Approval by a mere majority of House members would send the measure to a Senate-House conference committee to work out differences in the legislation.
19 Feb 2008

Wind developer eyes two new Ellis Co. locations

The much-contested proposed wind farm site southwest of Hays is not the only area being considered for a project location, County Commissioner Perry Henman said at Monday's meeting. Henman said Hays Wind project manager Krista Gordon contacted him last week and said locations in the southwestern and northern parts of Ellis county also are being pursued. "She wanted to inform me that I may have property in the wind farm north of Ellis," Henman said.
18 Feb 2008

Coalition pitches a proposed wind energy ordinance

The Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition has proposed an ordinance to the zoning board that would regulate wind energy development in the county to protect citizens, the environment, and the common good of community. The regulations were drafted from zoning laws of counties in other states experienced with wind energy and follow recommendations set forth in the governor's guidelines for wind energy development in Kansas. ...Proponents can argue that some of the proposed regulations are too stringent, but they cannot argue that they are not needed.
16 Feb 2008

Coal-plant bill overwhelmingly passes Senate

The Senate this afternoon passed with a veto-proof majority a controversial energy bill that would allow an addition to a coal-fired power plant in western Kansas and would strip the state's top environmental regulator of the power to limit carbon dioxide pollution. ..."We want economic growth, inexpensive energy and yet a clean environment and better health for our children," said Sen. Jim Barnett, R-Emporia, who voted in favor of the bill. "Solutions require elected officials to recognize those competing goals, to be frank about them and the tradeoffs they require."
14 Feb 2008

Kansas bill allows coal plants, Sets renewable energy standards

A House committee endorsed a bill Tuesday to allow two coal-fired power plants in southwest Kansas, adding a mandate that utilities generate 10 percent of their electricity from renewable resources such as wind within two years. The Energy and Utilities Committee's unanimous voice vote to send the measure to the House stood in sharp contrast to the strong divisions over energy policy that emerged during a four-hour debate. Members rewrote a bill drafted by the committee's Republican chairman and top Democrat and their Senate counterparts. Three times, the House committee rejected proposals for what would have been the state's first limits on carbon dioxide emissions ...Not only would utilities be required to generate 10 percent of their electricity from renewable resources by 2010, the figure would climb to 25 percent in 2025. But there's no punishment if a utility fails to meet the standard
12 Feb 2008

Wind plan destroys Kansas wonders

In the Kansas Country Living, February 2008, Gov. Sebelius is said to have a personal goal set to "achieve 10 percent wind power by 2010." Someone outside the forever-tax-exempt, corporate-wind-farm, big-business-gifting-the-officials-with-scraps office do the math. How in the world can a governor party about the Flint Hills Tallgrass Prairie Landscape (the last known one of its kind on earth) and party on the other hand with big business that is mutilating and hacking to pieces the very tallgrass we call a Wonder? One ridiculous wind farm destroyed 10,000 acres of significant ecological and scenic area of these precious grasses in Lincoln and Ellsworth counties.
12 Feb 2008
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