Library from Kansas
The interest of wind development companies has received a mostly warm welcome in Saline County, he said. "We were initially very excited to see that someone else thinks we have something of value above our land," Pryor said. But landowners are proceeding cautiously, he said. Part of Saline County's attraction to potential developers, he said, is that no one in the county has signed away their wind energy rights. Those contracts tend to last for several decades and are therefore nothing to be taken lightly, he said.
Opponents of a proposed wind farm southwest of Hays filed a lawsuit in Ellis County District Court on Tuesday seeking to reverse the decision to issue a conditional-use permit. The lawsuit did not, however, ask for any type of restraining order. The case was filed by Wichita attorney Patrick Hughes on behalf of 44 plaintiffs -- a virtual who's who of residents living in the area surrounding the proposed wind farm -- against the Ellis County Commission.
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has once again challenged Kansas to utilize alternative energy sources. The voluntary initiative encourages Kansas to have 1,000 megawatts of renewable energy installed by 2015. But if some experts are right, that increased reliance on renewable energy will mean Kansas will also have higher utility bills. And because of a lack of transmission lines, there may be no place for the energy to go. ..."Challenges, such as that posed by Governor Sebelius, are symbolic, political tools, that do little more than push the building of wind turbines for the sake of building wind turbines," Linowes said.
Wind power is often portrayed as a feel-good substitute for big power plants, but it has severe limitations; its performance, obviously, is as fickle as the wind. Because of that, wind farms must still be backed up by conventional power in case the wind fails. "You can predict some changes in the wind broadly but not second-by-second," said Robert Michaels, a professor of economics at California State University, Fullerton, who has studied the issue. ...Wind energy will have a growing place in America's energy portfolio, but its niche probably won't approach the Energy Department's 20 percent prediction.
A company from Kansas is exploring building two wind farms, one near Kouts and one near LaCrosse. Within the next month, Trade Wind Energy of Lenexa, Kan., will erect a 197-foot-tall wind monitoring tower. ...Because guide wire towers are not allowed in the county, a zoning variance had to be granted this week.
At Monday's Hays Area Planning Commission meeting, commissioners were informed that legal descriptions defining the city-governed 3-mile zoning radius of Hays need to be revised. Jesse Rohr, superintendent of planning, inspection and enforcement, said the issue surfaced as city staff began analyzing plans for a wind farm southwest of Hays, which includes plans for turbines in the area. ...Hays Wind Project Manager Krista Gordon previously said there are eight turbines proposed within the 3-mile radius as defined in county zoning regulations.
It was more wind talk Monday evening as the Hays Area Planning Commission continued efforts to develop wind turbine regulations for city-governed land. The board has been working to develop the regulations for several months, and with a couple extra work sessions, hopes to wrap the process up by November. Because the commission oversees regulations in town and within the surrounding 3-mile radius, rules for both hobbyist and commercial towers have been taken into consideration.
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.
News report from KTKA TV49 in Kansas: Duration 1 minute 40 seconds
Monday's Ellis County Commission vote to grant a conditional-use permit application for a wind project southwest of Hays was a step forward for Iberdrola's 200-megawatt project. Individuals on both sides of the issue, however, expect that final resolution of this debate could be issued in district court. "I sincerely appreciate the vote of support this morning," said Krista Gordon, Hays Wind project manager. ...Not everyone, however, is pleased with the commissioners' decision. Tim Davis, co-chairman of the Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition, a group opposed to the wind farm, said plans to file an appeal in district court have been under way.
For the second time in less than a year, the Ellis County Commission was split in its decision to grant a conditional-use permit for a wind farm southwest of Hays. This time, however, the 2-1 vote in favor of granting the permit was sufficient. Approval of Iberdrola's much-contested 200-megawatt wind farm project, to stretch across approximately 13,000 acres of land, was granted this morning. "The zoning board did vote 5-2 for approval," Commissioner Vernon Berens said. "All I can say is, I think it's an excellent benefit economically and otherwise for the county."
In a 2-1 vote, the Ellis County Commission gave its approval to the latest conditional-use permit for a large-scale wind-energy development southwest of Hays. Perry Hanman, whose dissenting vote nixed the project last fall, again voted against the project, with commissioners Vernon Berens and Dennis Pfannenstiel supporting the plan.
Some have stuff to lose while others have things to gain. Take T. Boone Pickens for example. He's "been an oil man his entire life," until he found wind. Why the sudden burst of what appears to be environmentalism? I don't know Pickens, but I do know this: Oil companies such as Exxon boast a profit margin of approximately 8 percent. Most estimates place his potential profit margin in industrial wind at or above 25 percent. It comes as no surprise, that being a good capitalist, Pickens wants in on wind. Why then does his campaign sound so political? That's easy: Without the government subsidies and tax breaks, industrial wind couldn't make money at all, let alone a 25 percent profit. Makes me think he's not so much concerned about transfers of wealth so long as the wealth transfers to his account. Without our money (the government) transferring to his account, wind isn't profitable, and without the profit he won't build, so he's depending on us to lobby the government. Sound familiar?
Another appeal has been filed regarding the development plan for a much-contested wind farm southwest of Hays, and this one will come before the Ellis County Commission later this month. The appeal was submitted by Wichita attorney Patrick Hughes on behalf of almost 60 Ellis County residents. "The appeal requires the county commission to weigh in on the questions that were raised to the planning commission," Hughes said, referring to the June 24 meeting of the Ellis County Joint Planning Commission.
As Iberdrola's plans continue for a proposed wind farm west of Hays and two other wind farms in Ellis County, another company is pursuing plans for an operation north of town. Denver-based Invenergy Wind LLC is working to gauge landowner support, and has been encouraged by local interest, said Mark Jacobson, director of business development. ...The company also is eying other opportunities in the state of Kansas, but has made the Ellis County location its primary focus in the state, he said.
With no protest mounted, a proposed wind project southwest of Hays will come before the Ellis County Commission needing a simple majority. Approved by the Ellis County Joint Planning Commission by a 5-2 vote in June, the Hays Wind project received no opposition during a protest period that ended Wednesday, and county commissioners tentatively are set to hear the proposal July 28. ...Iberdrola has yet to sell the energy expected to be produced on the Hays Wind site.
The request, for a restraining order and a writ of mandamus -- seeking to force the county to do its duty under zoning regulations -- had been made by Rod Bittel, who lives about a mile from where the wind farm would be located. Even though he denied the requests from Bittel and his attorney, Patrick Hughes, Wichita, Toepfer left open the door for additional action. "If either party is ultimately aggrieved by what the county commission does with regard to this application, then an appeal can be taken to the district court to determine if the action was not supported by the evidence or is otherwise arbitrary or capricious," the judge said in summing up his ruling.
On June 26, two of our county commissioners fired the shot heard round the world. I assure you that within 24 hours every large wind farm conglomerate in the world got the news that the biased, hand-picked zoning committee had accomplished their mission. ...Now, we will all be forced to live with wind farm rules that are so vague and minute, they will do little to protect the citizens of our county. Now that the fox is in the chicken coup, we will see dozens of applications to bring in wind farms. Because these huge conglomerates are worried they may lose the monster tax breaks if Congress votes them out, they will be in a mad rush to get things going in our county. Within five years we may not have one scenic location left in Ellis County. When they have destroyed all the high hills, they will just make the towers a 100 feet higher and continue to march across our county.
The two companies vying to build the "V" line through southwest Kansas -- a new superhighway for electric transmission -- made their cases Friday to the Kansas Electric Transmission Authority in Wichita. The authority, which facilitates planning for the grid in Kansas, is waiting to see which company the Kansas Corporation Commission allows to build a line they hope will spur the continued rise of wind farms in western Kansas and help equalize electric rates for Kansans statewide. ...Kansas could be the first in the Midwest to see construction of a 765-kilovolt transmission line, noted Transmission Authority Chairman Carl Holmes, a legislator from Liberal. "I think it's significant," he said at Friday's meeting. "There's a good chance the first 765-line west of the Mississippi River will be built in Kansas." The line could be erected as a "V," from Spearville southeast into Barber County, then angling northeast into the Wichita area.
For the second time in about a year, the Ellis County Joint Planning Commission recommended approval of the proposed Hays Wind project by a majority vote. Following Wednesday's lengthy public hearing, the present commissioners voted 5-2 to recommend county commissioners approve the conditional-use permit application. ... One concern voiced by both commissioners voting against the project was the fact the project's boundaries have been altered, creating gaps in the project area to allow for setbacks from neighbors not involved in the project. By altering these boundaries, the company has reduced the feasibility for a valid protest petition, as provided for in county zoning regulations, Anderson said.