Library from Kansas
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.
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.
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."
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.
An appeal has been filed with the Ellis County Board of Zoning Appeals, protesting a public hearing scheduled for Wednesday. The public hearing had been slated for the Joint Planning Commission to consider a conditional-use permit application submitted by Iberdrola's Hays Wind for the proposed wind farm southwest of Hays. The appeal was filed by members of the Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition, who say the application is incomplete and the case should not be heard until corrections are made. ...How the appeal will affect the wind farm hearing remains unknown. [Zoning Administrator Dale] Wing said he is waiting for response from the county's attorney, Dennis Davidson, regarding the issue.
Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson assured Greenwood he'd have no problems with wind performance at the planned 99-megawatt wind farm being constructed east of Marienthal, between the town and the Scott County line and north of Kansas Highway 96. ...The wind is what brought Westar, which will own and operate the wind farm, and RES, which will construct it, to Kansas. ...Westar will be able to meet the energy needs of about 5 percent of its customers, according to Sterbenz. "This is the right place to put wind farms," he said of Kansas and Wichita County. "We want to build wind farms where people want wind farms."
Officials from Westar Energy and Renewable Energy Systems Americas will hold a ground-breaking ceremony at its Central Plains Wind Farm site in Wichita County. The site is expected to go online by the end of the year.
It was more wind farm-related planning issues Monday evening as the Hays Area Planning Commission continued its process of developing wind power regulations to be applied within city limits. While no action was taken on the issue, commissioners discussed the possibility of having a more unbiased academic source provide a day of education for local government. "It seems like it's going to be a coming thing in the future," Planning Commissioner Terry Claycamp said. "To have some non-biased, knowledgeable source, we could have questions answered." ..."On the commercial side, I've been very frustrated because most of the information we can get ... everything seems so slanted in one direction or the other," Planning Commissioner Jim Fouts said.
Mike Irvin, an attorney for the Kansas Farm Bureau Legal Foundation who spoke Tuesday at the fourth wind conference at the Scott County Fairgrounds, said energy companies aren't bad, but landowners must be aware of contracts and agreements before signing them. Irvin told about 100 people at the conference at the Scott City Fairgrounds that he knows farmers are independent people who might not want to discuss land issues with other farmers or attorneys. "Landowners and attorneys need to work together," Irvin said. "More people have more power. Put the independence away and consult attorneys."
Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson said Tuesday wind production in Kansas can expand to create an export market for notoriously stiff breezes cruising across the state. "We know there is just a certain amount of wind we can integrate into our electrical system in Kansas," Parkinson said. "How do we keep the momentum going? We're probably talking about export." Wind generation capacity is spiking in Kansas through construction of large commercial farms. The state's installed capacity was 365 megawatts at the end of 2007. That total is expected to reach 1,015 megawatts at the end of 2008.