Articles from Kansas
Westar Energy and Electric Transmission America have banded together in hopes of building ultra-high capacity transmission lines between Wichita and the Spearville substation. The partnership, dubbed Prairie Wind Transmission, is expected to get under way after the company receives government approval for the project, according to a statement released by Westar Energy. ...[Westar's Kelly] Harrison said the lines would be the start of an interstate transmission "super highway" that would allow Kansas to export renewable energy resources to states that don't have similar options. Kansans could also access power markets across the region.
The process of developing wind power regulations is underway for the city of Hays. On Monday night, the Hays Area Planning Commission discussed the wind power moratorium, which is in effect until Dec. 31. "I do think (we need) a four- to six-month investment of time and energy to do research and make sure that we have consideration," Chairman Larry Gould said. The subject originally came before the commission after developer Wes Bainter, Hoxie, inquired about installing wind generators for a senior apartment project on East 33rd Street.
It seems politicians of every stripe have a new buzzword to abuse. Preface any project or technology with the word "renewable," and it is almost guaranteed to generate automatic public support and popularity, even though it is invariably linked to some handout for big corporate interests. Powerful lobby groups representing private interest sectors are the primary beneficiaries of these policies, rather than the public interest. ...How renewable will our farmland be when thousands of acres of prairie are fragmented by access roads, power lines and wind turbine foundations? How renewable will our precious rural ecology be when soil profiles are disrupted, native plant ecosystems damaged and wildlife driven off by the noise and intrusion of monstrous wind turbines?
Baby, the wind must blow. But whether rules about generating electricity from the the wind will go is the question for the Franklin County Planning Commission. ...The proposed rules deal only with "small wind" and not the large utility-sized wind farms that are sprouting up over western Kansas. Both Walrod and Wilson say that given average wind speeds and patterns in Franklin County, it's not likely that any commercial wind farms would be located in the county, although Walrod said that in the future, some spots of southeastern Franklin County might be considered.
The requested waiver on wind energy development in Ellis County will resurface for further discussion June 2 after county commissioners opted to table action Monday. Commissioners agreed to postpone making a decision until the Joint Planning Commission, which is in the process of reviewing and amending wind farm zoning regulations, has a chance to discuss the request and make a recommendation. "I think we need to allow them to finish that process. Pushing it through is just going to make it more contentious," Commissioner Perry Henman said. "I think we need to get our rules and regulations straight so that every project doesn't become as contentious as this one. I think we're jumping the gun if we push this through."
For months the zoning board, city council, county commissioners, and residents have held meeting discussing the proposed $300 million wind farm in Hays. The project has people on both sides. After being rejected for a conditional-use permit last year, county zoning regulations state Iberdrola, the company behind the Hays wind project, must wait one year before submitting a new application. That year is up in September. ...But the new application will have to wait. County commissioners decided to let the planning commission discuss the year hold on May 28th before deciding if the new application will wait until September.
The Ellis County Commission this morning tabled a request to waive a yearlong waiting period for a second attempt at a wind farm southwest of Hays. Commissioners opted instead to send the waiver - required after the developer's initial proposal was rejected last year - to the county's zoning commission for review and recommendation.
At Monday's meeting, the commission will be asked to waive a year-long moratorium required by county zoning regulations and enforced last September when the conditional-use permit was rejected. ...The application to be discussed Monday is slightly different than the proposal submitted about a year ago. The project area's internal and external boundaries have changed, including additional tracts of land to the south and west of the original project.
Bonner Springs may get a zoning ordinance amendment this summer that addresses an issue increasingly on the public's mind. At its study session before the regular meeting on Tuesday, the Planning Commission gave the go-ahead to Planning Director Don Slone to draw up proposed amendments to the city's zoning ordinance to allow wind turbines in certain areas with restrictions.
Generation Resources Holding Co. filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Monday. The Leawood-based wind-energy project developer filed to rid itself of as much dischargeable debt as possible as the company has little in the way of personal property but owes nearly $6 million to creditors holding unsecured nonpriority claims. ...According to its Web site, the company was building or had built several wind-energy projects in Pennsylvania.
While there's a flurry of activity going on around the coal-fired power plant and its companion ethanol plant, there's virtually nothing happening on the wind farm proposed near Goodland. And there's little information being passed between the wind developer and the city of Goodland, which is all but on the hook to purchase power from Renewable Energy Resources. ...[Goodland City Manager Wayne] Hill isn't happy with the provisions of the contract, but he wasn't in his current position when the contract was signed. "It's not that I'm against wind," he said. But there are provisions in the contract that could jeopardize Goodland's power grid, notably power would go in at a lower voltage level than it is now.
The state's highest court has put on hold indefinitely its review of a regulator's decision blocking two coal-fired power plants in southwest Kansas. The Supreme Court plans to wait until legal challenges to the decision are considered first in district court and in administrative hearings involving the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. ... Spokesman Steve Miller said Sunflower wouldn't comment about the Supreme Court's action until its attorneys had a chance to review its order.
In a unanimous vote Thursday night, the Hays City Commission enacted a moratorium against wind development in the city. The intent is to give the Hays Area Planning Commission a chance to examine issues relating to wind towers and develop regulations to govern those towers. ..."We just don't have any ordinances to deal with towers," City Attorney John T. Bird said. "If we don't have any regulations, then it's a free for all." Mayor Barbara Wasinger said proceeding with caution is important.
Monday night's Hays Area Planning Commission meeting to discuss a moratorium for wind towers was a stark contrast to county meetings on a similar topic. As opposed to overflowing county crowds, Monday night's meeting at City Hall drew one observer. Planning commissioners discussed options for towers within city limits, as well as what other cities are doing regarding the issue. "There's the wind farm towers, 300- or 400-foot towers, then there are the residential towers that brought this all here," said Jesse Rohr, superintendent of planning, enforcement and inspection. "A lot of what you find is dealing with the bigger towers. So you have to differentiate between the two."
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Thursday vetoed a second bill allowing two coal-fired power plants in southwest Kansas and accused its supporters of being unwilling to compromise. But House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, an Ingalls Republican who strongly supported the measure, replied that the Democratic governor is preventing the state from having a comprehensive energy policy. Sebelius' action was expected and came only three days after the Legislature formally presented the bill to her. The measure was similar to one Sebelius vetoed last month. ...Supporters need two-thirds majorities in both chambers to nullify a veto. They've always had more than enough in the Senate. But the second bill passed the House, 83-41, leaving supporters one vote short.
Commissioners discussed the possibility of a moratorium until the end of the year. "The moratorium is to hold anything off and not allow any development for a set period of time so the planning commission could come back with a recommendation for you," City Manager Toby Dougherty said. The eight months would allow the Hays Area Planning Commission time to research what other cities and counties have done in regard to wind power. The issue came up because a developer asked about the possibility of putting a turbine up in the area of 33rd Street, Dougherty said. ...Commissioners discussed a shorter moratorium period but opted to leave the length at eight months.
Two brothers-in-law, a country road in northwest Missouri, a fistfight ...Surely it's happened before, but probably never over wind energy. ...At the heart of the dispute: Just how healthy is the noise from wind turbines? ...In Rock County, Union Township residents studied medical and scientific research for months before drafting their wind ordinance, which says a setback of at least a half-mile from inhabited structures is needed to avoid health problems. Tom Alisankus, chairman of the committee that drafted the ordinance, said committee members found in their research that the state of Wisconsin had no medical or scientific data to back a model ordinance with a 1,000-foot setback. Proposed legislation that would have allowed the state's Public Service Commission to set statewide siting standards failed to reach a vote before the session ended last month. Doctors in other countries, including Canada, England, France, Australia and New Zealand, have written papers about similar illnesses in people who live near wind farms. ..."Does noise bother people differently? Absolutely," said Smith, the area audiologist. "It can have a very debilitating effect." But, he said, before anyone can conclude that the wind turbines are harmful, a major study must be done.
When an Appanoose woman sought to erect a wind-power generator at her home a year ago, Larry Walrod, county planner, discovered there were no regulations regarding the generators and their towers. To allow her to put up a tower, planners had to design a backdoor path to grant her a special use permit through a provision that allows utilities to operate in the county. The procedure spurred several inquiries from other people interested in putting up their own wind generators, Walrod said. ...Few counties in Kansas have rules one way or another concerning wind-generators and, for the most part, are concerned with giant commercial wind farms, such as those in western Kansas, Walrod said.
Setback requirements between industrial wind turbines and residences likely will not increase from the currently mandated 1,000 feet. At Wednesday's Joint Planning Commission meeting, a motion to double the required distance failed due to a tied vote of 4-4, with commissioner Charlie Rohr absent. "Two thousand feet just protects all the homeowners involved," Commissioner Bill Poland said. "It just gives them a wider bumper of protection." Commissioners continued to review zoning amendments submitted by the public and discussed a proposal filed by J.P. Michaud regarding wind farm regulations.
The developer of a proposed Ellis County wind farm has re-initiated the process of building the wind-energy complex in the county. Hays Wind today filed a request to the county commission requesting a waiver of the one-year waiting period for consideration of the proposed wind farm. The waiting period came into play after last year's rejection of the plan by the Ellis County Commission. Hays Wind project manager Krista Gordon said the latest request was well-researched. ...Recently, Hays Wind, whose parent company is Madrid-based Iberdrola, said it has considered two alternative locations within Ellis County, on top of the hotly contested location just southwest of Hays.