Library filed under Impact on Economy from Kansas
Had the wind industry focused on home-based wind mills that let you generate free power for your house, then kick over to the paid power grid when the wind stopped, consumers might have seen some benefit. Instead wind companies pushed for “farms” where the big money could be “farmed” from power companies, who in turn “farm” the added cost from your wallet. Wind power is an inflationary fairy tale that no one is willing to tell.
CU has an agreement with Smoky Hills Wind Project to purchase wind energy, but Smoky Hills says a series of “curtailments” caused CU to buy less energy and for Smoky Hills to receive less value in tax benefits.
The state's big bet on wind power has attracted a few hundred jobs so far. But even that success shows the huge challenge Kansas faces. ..."We need to temper our expectations on wind energy," said David Swenson, an Iowa State University economist known for deflating the ethanol industry's job claims. Now, he says, the same "environment of hype" is developing around wind power.
Every Landowner should know that a wind farm lease may damage and limit the use of one's own ground.
Wind energy is considered beneficial because of the reduced emissions of greenhouse gases, air pollutants and hazardous wastes as well as a decrease in the reliance of foreign energy. It's controversial however, because it's more than three times more expensive than traditional energy sources, such as coal, and far less reliable. ..."We believe a better option would be to send price signals to the market that encourage those renewables that can produce electricity during peak demand periods and that are built closer to the urban or load centers," [Linowes] said.
Iberdrola of Spain, owner of Elk River, realized over $9.9 million in PTC allowances in 2007. Foreign companies are not regulated by the Kansas Corporation Commission. There are no state or federal regulations of any kind on WECS. Few Kansas counties have wind regulations. WECS will force consumers to pay for their electricity three times; to build the WECS, build conventional power as backup, and additional transmission lines to carry power from the WECS to the grid. WECS will not produce large economic benefits to a community as evidenced by records from Gray County (Montezuma), or Butler County (Elk River). Elk River has produced seven jobs. Most employees live outside the community.
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.
Wind energy and coal plants are two buzz phrases seeing plenty of play in Kansas newspapers lately. The perception seems to be wind and solar power are the cleaner alternative over coal, but coal, according BPU General Manager Rick Anderson, is what makes BPU's rates the lowest in Kansas. "BPU has a contractual arrangement with Westar Energy to provide electricity from our turbine generators and in turn Westar provides us with our energy," Anderson said. The arrangement has kept BPU's average rates to 3.8 cents per kWh, well below the average of 8.1 cents for nationally publicly owned utilities and 7.6 for Kansas publicly owned utilities. ...House of Representatives Speaker Melvin Neufeld touched on the need for a sound energy policy in his 2008 Republican Legislative Vision speech. "Alternative energies like wind and solar power can play an important role in our state's energy portfolio, but the simple fact is wind turbines and sunshine alone cannot meet our growing demand for electricity," Neufeld said.
Westar is seeking the rate approval to recover $282 million for ownership of turbines at two proposed wind farms and for costs in purchasing energy from a third farm. The 300 megawatts of electricity would come from the Central Plains Wind Farm in Wichita County; Meridian Way Wind Farm in Cloud County and Flat Ridge Wind Farm in Barber County. ...Westar expects energy demand to continue growing among customers and while new wind energy can put off purchase of new "baseload" or constant power sources, for now, the utility expects it will need to build a new power plant between 2016 and 2018. ...Moore told commissioners Westar would walk away from the wind projects if they weren't allowed to earn at least a small profit from them.
... Westar's proposal [is] to add 300 megawatts of wind energy -- about enough to power 90,000 homes -- at a cost of $830 million over the next 20 years. The Kansas Corporation Commission is expected to rule by year's end on how to allow Westar to recover the cost. If approved, Westar's plan would add about $2.25 a month to the average customer's bill. ..."Something tells me there are going to be cost overruns and the capacity they're expecting won't be there and we'll get stuck with the bill,"
Its giant windmills remain still, but Smoky Hills Wind Farm already is generating economic activity in north-central Kansas. Between 200 and 250 workers are constructing the facility -- building roads, erecting turbines and assembling electrical systems that will collect and distribute the 100 megawatts of power that will be generated -- and about two-thirds of them have been hired locally.
Plans are in the works for Iberdrola, the company heading the proposed Ellis County wind farm, to enter contract negotiations with landowners adjacent to the project area. Project manager Krista Gordon said the contracts are not yet finalized, but arrangements are being made and landowners are being approached, she said. "It's designed to compensate anybody for any potential inconvenience caused by the project," she said. "We understand that construction activity has the potential to be disruptive." Some landowners, however, say that these attempts to negotiate are too little, too late.
The proposed Ellis County wind farm could produce a maximum of 200 megawatts of energy - however, at this point it does not appear that the energy would have an effect on local power bills. "If the power goes outside of Ellis County, there won't be one bit of change to the electrical bills of people in Ellis County," said Competitive Power Ventures project manager Krista Gordon. "If Midwest Energy purchases some of the energy, I don't know if that will have any effect on the bills or what it would be, but that is their call to make." Midwest Energy, which provides energy to almost 46,000 customers in 41 Kansas counties, already has agreed to purchase 25 megawatts of wind energy from the Smoky Hills Wind Project, located in Ellsworth and Lincoln counties.
The concept of public welfare is broad and inclusive. … The values it represents are spiritual as well as physical, aesthetic as well as monetary. It is within the power of legislature [to have] determined that the community should be beautiful as well as healthy, spacious as well as clean, well balanced as well as carefully patrolled. … “The County found that placing the complexes of wind farms, of the size and scope necessary to accomplish their intended purpose, would have a dramatic, and adverse, effect upon all of the general welfare issues found in the comprehensive plan. … “The Court finds there is substantial evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support the conclusions reached by the County. “[I]n the County’s denial of placing wind farms in the entire county[,] [t]he County didn’t take any existing rights away but only refused to expand the existing rights including wind rights.”
Rose Bacon, member of the Governor's Energy Task Force and a rancher who owns property in the Flint Hills, spoke about the vulnerability of communities facing proposals from international companies that want to build commercial wind farms in rural areas. She pointed to the lack of “teeth” in regulations, and the attractive tax write-offs granted to wind energy companies, and the inexperience of local officials in dealing with such monstrous deals, depicting a state-wide scenario akin to the “wildcatter days in the oil business.”
Manhattan (Kansas) benefits greatly from the scenic and intrinsic values of Flint Hills ranching landscapes and the from the stewardship of ranch landowners who struggle to preserve a way of life in the Flint Hills in Riley County and the two adjacent counties to the south and southeast.
Scientists compare the environmental importance of the tallgrass prairie to that of the rainforest. Its roots act as a carbon sink, cleansing the air of pollution. Its plants and limestone soils purify rainwater. Per acre, it provides more environmental benefits than any other ecosystem in North America.
There is less than 4% of native tallgrass prairie left in North America, and two-thirds of it is right here. Once you have experienced the spaciousness and exceptional beauty of open native grasslands, you know there is nothing in the world quite like it. These native grasslands are truly a national as well as a Kansas treasure.
The study pointed out that when a community focuses on tourism as a strategy for economic vitality, it is important that they coordinate tourism and other economic development activities. Weak or non-existent planning and zoning, polluting industries, etc. can lower the visitors’ impression and the likelihood of repeat visits. Furthermore, that essential word of mouth advertising, so wonderful when everything works well, can work against a community that fails to keep up its appearance and its offerings (YNG study).