Articles filed under General from Kansas
Siemens, a German conglomerate, announced Tuesday it is laying off 146 employees at its wind turbine nacelle plant in Hutchinson, leaving just 152 employees there. All told, 615 employees in Siemens' wind power business will lose their jobs. Siemens said the change would primarily affect employees in Iowa, Kansas and Florida.
The biggest cuts will come in Fort Madison, where 407 workers at a wind turbine blade factory will be out of work. About 220 workers there will be retained. The company blamed difficult market conditions due to lack of congressional action on a wind energy tax credit as well as increased use of natural gas-fired power plants and an overall sluggish economy.
Commissioners unanimously approved the recommendation of the Ellis County Planning and Zoning Commission for a conditional-use permit for Fort Hays State University to construct two wind turbines, contingent upon meeting several requirements. The project for two 2.1 megawatt Suzlon turbines.
Wind turbines interfere with agriculture, especially with aerial application of herbicides, pesticides and fungicides, he said. Another detractor is this area's location on a major fall migratory route for whooping cranes, an endangered species.
At 110 feet, the windmills on a hill south of the campus have been deemed too tall by the Federal Aviation Administration. The chance of losing $1 million in federal grants has prompted the college to take action that could cost up to $150,000. The FAA informed the college roughly a year ago that the windmills are in Blosser Municipal Airport's airspace.
Despite an incentive agreement that references it, Mars Chocolate North America won't construct a wind turbine for its Topeka site. That is because having a wind turbine on the Kanza Fire Commerce Park would interfere with the airspace of nearby Forbes Field.
"The Sandsage Prairie is an ecosystem that is very fragile, and impacting it in a large way could have an impact on the species that depend on that ecosystem," Barton said, adding that two species in particular are the longnose snake and the lesser prairie-chicken.
Commercial wind energy projects will require a "special use" permit, which does not authorize construction of the project until the applicant (developer) has obtained a power purchase agreement for the electricity to be generated.
"Unless Indeck intends to commence construction before the moratorium expires and the county rejects your request for a suspension of the moratorium, the moratorium will have no effect on Indeck," said Hughes. "Thus, threats of litigation over any loss caused by the moratorium are premature and they are ill-founded."
The letter urged commissioners to withdraw the moratorium on wind farm generators in the county or, at a minimum, to suspend its effect on properties included in the Wildcat Wind Farm Project.
Marked by neighbor disputes, county zoning regulations and economic recession, Ellis County remains a county without active wind energy development. Production tax credits are set to expire in 2012, and Kansas' largest wind farm now is taking shape in southern Kansas.
"This court cannot know how much electricity would be generated from Wabaunsee County wind, and eventually kept out of the interstate power grid, if there were no board prohibition against (commercial wind farms)," Nuss wrote. "This type of information would be relevant (to further analysis)."
Carrick said he is concerned about his cattle because workers drive through his pastures, causing ruts in the field. He said now he is finding large holes that have not been filled. "We don't want to see the land destroyed," said Michael Carrick, landowner.
The commissioners' motion claims the development of land for utility scale wind energy production, prior to the adoption of zoning regulations, will threaten the utility and integrity of subsequently adopted zoning regulations, and creates risk of injury to public welfare.
LINCOLN -- That "swoosh" sound that windmills make as the big blades pass by their towers is a sweet chord to Richard Plinsky.
As Kermit the Frog knows, it's not easy being green. When it comes to extracting energy from Mother Earth, you pick your poison. We used to live in Farmington, N.M., near two large power plants and an open-pit coal mine. They weren't pretty, but compared to those windmills the limited land damage of a coal mine and power plant look rather appealing. They are certainly more efficient.
"We have a longstanding contract with the Tennessee Valley Authority, since 2009. Because we've contracted with a federal authority, however, from an administrative standpoint it takes longer. The project has to go through a more rigorous and thorough environmental review."
It is my opinion that the proposed projects will have an adverse impact upon the overall ecosystem of the Tallgrass Prairie, a true national treasure. The last remnants of the Tallgrass Prairie run from Osage County northward, into northern Kansas and I believe that the Osage Nation must join others in its protection, restoration, and properly make use of the limited opportunities.
Whether turbines should be in the Flint Hills - and it appears they mostly will not be - is part of the dialogue over how best to leverage the sprawling, environmentally sensitive tallgrass prairie that Brownback has called "an ecological jewel."
A lawsuit filed by more than two dozen Ellis County landowners and a prospective wind developer against the Ellis County Commission was dismissed Wednesday. Dismissal comes on the heels of zoning regulation changes passed 2-1 at Monday's commission meeting.