Library from Kansas

Tower talk in city keeps turning

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."
22 Apr 2008

Commission debates length of wind moratorium

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.
18 Apr 2008

Sebelius rejects 2nd coal-plant measure

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.
18 Apr 2008

Wind power generating controversy

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.
18 Apr 2008

Commission: Setback distances for turbines likely won't change

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.
17 Apr 2008

Local energy debate blowing in the wind

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.
17 Apr 2008

Wind farm company requests waiver

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.
16 Apr 2008

City lacks wind regulations

The Hays City Commission will discuss wind generators within the city limits during the work session at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, 1507 Main. "We had more than one individual come forward inquiring about wind towers within the city limits," said Jesse Rohr, superintendent of planning, inspection and enforcement. "They raised the flag and made us do some checking and realize we don't have enough in place to regulate those." The commission will discuss a moratorium to allow time to research. The moratorium would be in place until the end of the year, unless it was extended.
15 Apr 2008

Details of new energy bill sent to Sebelius

RENEWABLE ENERGY -- For investor-owned utilities and electric cooperatives, renewable resources, such as wind, must account for 10 percent of electric generating capacity by 2012, 15 percent by 2016 and 20 percent by 2020. -- If utilities own wind farms or purchase power from wind farms, they must create programs under which customers who pay an extra charge are guaranteed to get power from those wind farms.
6 Apr 2008

The 'No, Nothing' Democrats

Most sources of energy are beyond the pale in the Democratic Party, but nothing carries quite the moral stigma of coal. The latest excommunication is under way in Kansas, of all places, and it may be a forerunner of national political trends. Governor Kathleen Sebelius calls it "a moral obligation," as though she were opposing crimes against humanity. This is a reference to coal companies guilty of nothing more than attempting to provide power to consumers. But their misfortunes include emitting carbon dioxide into the current political atmosphere, and also the presence of Ms. Sebelius, who recently invented another way of enacting her preferred global-warming policies without legislation. ...Coal provides more than half of U.S. electricity because it is cheap and abundant - and viable. Wind turbines and the rest of the boutique alternatives are none of those, a reality that Democrats are going to have to square when they actually bother to pass a climate-change bill.
4 Apr 2008

Commissioners consider no zoning

Countywide zoning -- and the possibility of rescinding it -- was discussed by Ellis County Commissioners on Monday morning. Chairman Dennis Pfannenstiel, who attended last week's planning commission meeting, expressed concerns about current zoning issues. "To me, countywide zoning is just causing nothing but trouble," he said. "At the meeting the other night, they accomplished nothing. All that got done was bickering.
2 Apr 2008

Getting ready for the 'Big Wind'

A large group of people gathered in Reading Tuesday evening to hear a presentation about wind energy. The panel of speakers included proponents and opponents of wind energy and people who were neutral on the issue. City and county officials from both Lyon and Osage Counties were present and helped organize the meeting, which was moderated by Lyon County Commission Chairman Scott Briggs. ...Wind energy will not lessen the country's dependence on oil, Bacon said. "The fact is that the U.S. uses less than three percent of its oil on electricity," she said. "Kansas uses less than one percent." Like Porter, Bacon cautioned landowners when it comes to leases. She said if landowners decide to sign a lease, they need to make sure they consult an attorney who has experience in wind energy leases. "This is a big-boy's game," she said. "Once you step into the wind world, you're not in Kansas anymore, figuratively speaking ... this is a very, very complex, intertwined business." Bacon talked about land impact regarding wind turbines and wind fields. Substantial roads have to be built, she said, with freight up to 100 tons. There has to be reliable electricity on site to power the turbines, which have to have a light on them and are run by a computer. "Wind turbines not only produce energy but will use energy," she said.
2 Apr 2008

Proposed zoning revisions bring applause, tension

The board heard from three individuals who had prepared suggestions to revise the current zoning document, which was approved by the county commission in 2006. "I would just like to thank the people that put the time in to do it," Commissioner Gary Luea said following the presentations, as the audience burst into applause. There also were moments of tension, as commissioners began to review a proposal submitted by J.P. Michaud presented last month regarding zoning regulations for wind farms. ...The changes proposed by Michaud on behalf of the Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition also suggest setback distances of 1 mile from inhabited structures, and state noise emissions should not exceed 40 decibels for any period of time.
27 Mar 2008

Energy bill supporters wary of Sebelius' deal

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius continues to offer a deal to allow one of two proposed coal-fired units in southwest Kansas as a way to resolve a dispute over energy legislation. But the utility hoping to expand its power plant rejected her proposal weeks ago. And legislators who support the company remain skeptical that the governor's offer is genuine. ...The governor said she would accept construction of one unit if Sunflower committed to developing additional wind power, new conservation programs and capturing and storing carbon dioxide emissions. "The framework of this proposal seeks to find a middle ground between all parties concerned," she said, calling her plan "reasonable and sensible" in scope.
23 Mar 2008

Governor's veto halts energy bill

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed the coal plant bill with an anticlimactic penstroke Friday as supporters of the measure considered another route to gaining approval for the giant project in western Kansas. Sebelius said the legislation, which allows expansion of a coal-fired power plant outside Holcomb and restricts the authority of the state's top environmental regulator, would have allowed too much carbon dioxide pollution. ...Supporters of the bill said the veto put the economic and energy needs of western Kansas in jeopardy. "Not allowing clean coal technology to be part of Kansas' energy future will result in a devastating increase in the average Kansan's electric bill," said Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton.
22 Mar 2008

Let us see the stars

We need to adopt a new way of thinking for the prairie land that sustains us. Our prairie isn't a waste dump to place a huge, monetarily motivated, (supposedly) economically stimulating thing that defaces it of its natural beauty and hampers the land's usefulness. ...Might I appeal to all fellow prairie landowners to look about this endless simple beauty and say, "You can't pay me enough!" when approached to lease for a commercial wind farm.
16 Mar 2008

Let us see the stars

We need to adopt a new way of thinking for the prairie land that sustains us. Our prairie isn't a waste dump to place a huge, monetarily motivated, (supposedly) economically stimulating thing that defaces it of its natural beauty and hampers the land's usefulness. ...Might I appeal to all fellow prairie landowners to look about this endless simple beauty and say, "You can't pay me enough!" when approached to lease for a commercial wind farm.
15 Mar 2008

Wind does not negate need for coal

At a recent public meeting, someone said I was opposed to electricity produced by coal, nuclear, and hydro-as well as wind. Moreover, I was reminded that I was off the mark by saying wind technology could not prevent new conventional power plants from being built to meet increasing demand, pointing to a recent Parade magazine article reporting the governor of Kansas was building a 1000MW wind facility, obviating the need for a new coal plant. Here's reality. ...
14 Mar 2008

Residents propose zoning changes

About a year after the possibility of an Ellis County wind farm divided the community, there was talk of compromise at Wednesday's planning and zoning commission meeting. As part of a process to review and possibly revamp zoning regulations, the board heard from residents who had suggested changes to the county document. "It has to be a mutual consensus, a reasonable consensus, for all of the parties involved," said J.P. Michaud, who proposed a replacement document for the wind energy guidelines. "We're just trying to initiate a debate here that's going to be a reasonable compromise for the whole community."
28 Feb 2008

Rare birds could be threatened by growth of wind farms

Whooping cranes, one of the world's rarest birds, have waged a valiant battle against extinction. But federal officials warn of a new potential threat to the endangered whoopers: wind farms. Down to as few as 16 in 1941, the gargantuan birds that migrate 2,400 miles each fall from Canada to Texas, thanks to conservation efforts, now number about 266. But because wind energy, one of the fastest growing sources of renewable energy, has gained such traction, whooping cranes could again be at risk - from either crashing into the towering wind turbines and transmission lines or because of habitat lost to the wind farms. "Basically you can overlay the strongest, best areas for wind turbine development with the whooping crane migration corridor," said Tom Stehn, whooping crane coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
27 Feb 2008
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