Library from Kansas
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.
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. ...
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."
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.
The best payoff for wind energy isn't in putting up a bunch of turbines, generating way more power than you'll ever use and selling juice back to the power company. Rather, it's in generating just a portion of your total power consumption, at least so long as power companies buy power at a fraction of what they charge for it. ...Brown explained that building enough generating capacity to run a school and selling back any excess power isn't really viable in Kansas right now because of the low rates utilities pay for that power.
Yet another bill on coal-fired electricity surged toward an expected showdown between a majority of legislators and Gov. Kathleen Sebelius Tuesday. On a 77-45 vote, the House sent the Senate its version of a bill to help Sunflower Electric Power Corp. of Hays obtain a permit to build two coal-burning plants next to an existing one in Finney County. ...The bill has a renewable portfolio standard requiring utilities to produce 5 percent of their energy from renewable power by 2010 and 10 percent by 2020. McKinney also said the bill opens the door for net metering for solar power in Kansas. That would allow owners of solar panels to receive credit on their utility bills for excess power generated from their panels.
Kansas City Power & Light has tabled plans to build in 2008 its second 100-megawatt wind farm, citing difficulties in getting financing. The wind farm was promised by KCP&L as part of a comprehensive energy plan that included the coal-fired Iatan 2 plant, under construction near Weston. The plan, announced last March by the utility and the Sierra Club, was hailed as the first of its kind and included building 400 megawatts of wind energy by 2012. The utility, which this week acknowledged construction cost overruns at Iatan 2, is putting off the wind project at a time when other utilities are stepping up their wind-energy construction. The decision also means KCP&L won't take advantage of federal wind energy tax credits that expire at the end of the year.
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.
The Senate last week passed by a veto-proof majority a bill opening a door to the 1,400-megawatt expansion of the Holcomb facility owned by Sunflower Electric Power Corp. A roll call vote today in the House would determine if 84 votes exist in the chamber to protect its version from Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' veto pen. After a three-hour debate Monday, the House gave tentative approval to its energy bill 73-45. Approval by a mere majority of House members would send the measure to a Senate-House conference committee to work out differences in the legislation.
The much-contested proposed wind farm site southwest of Hays is not the only area being considered for a project location, County Commissioner Perry Henman said at Monday's meeting. Henman said Hays Wind project manager Krista Gordon contacted him last week and said locations in the southwestern and northern parts of Ellis county also are being pursued. "She wanted to inform me that I may have property in the wind farm north of Ellis," Henman said.
The Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition has proposed an ordinance to the zoning board that would regulate wind energy development in the county to protect citizens, the environment, and the common good of community. The regulations were drafted from zoning laws of counties in other states experienced with wind energy and follow recommendations set forth in the governor's guidelines for wind energy development in Kansas. ...Proponents can argue that some of the proposed regulations are too stringent, but they cannot argue that they are not needed.
The Senate this afternoon passed with a veto-proof majority a controversial energy bill that would allow an addition to a coal-fired power plant in western Kansas and would strip the state's top environmental regulator of the power to limit carbon dioxide pollution. ..."We want economic growth, inexpensive energy and yet a clean environment and better health for our children," said Sen. Jim Barnett, R-Emporia, who voted in favor of the bill. "Solutions require elected officials to recognize those competing goals, to be frank about them and the tradeoffs they require."
In the Kansas Country Living, February 2008, Gov. Sebelius is said to have a personal goal set to "achieve 10 percent wind power by 2010." Someone outside the forever-tax-exempt, corporate-wind-farm, big-business-gifting-the-officials-with-scraps office do the math. How in the world can a governor party about the Flint Hills Tallgrass Prairie Landscape (the last known one of its kind on earth) and party on the other hand with big business that is mutilating and hacking to pieces the very tallgrass we call a Wonder? One ridiculous wind farm destroyed 10,000 acres of significant ecological and scenic area of these precious grasses in Lincoln and Ellsworth counties.
A House committee endorsed a bill Tuesday to allow two coal-fired power plants in southwest Kansas, adding a mandate that utilities generate 10 percent of their electricity from renewable resources such as wind within two years. The Energy and Utilities Committee's unanimous voice vote to send the measure to the House stood in sharp contrast to the strong divisions over energy policy that emerged during a four-hour debate. Members rewrote a bill drafted by the committee's Republican chairman and top Democrat and their Senate counterparts. Three times, the House committee rejected proposals for what would have been the state's first limits on carbon dioxide emissions ...Not only would utilities be required to generate 10 percent of their electricity from renewable resources by 2010, the figure would climb to 25 percent in 2025. But there's no punishment if a utility fails to meet the standard
County commissioners likely will see new regulations for wind power later this year. Because of a growing number of inquiries about wind generators, the Franklin County Planning Commission has been working on a proposal for planning and zoning rules for wind generators, Lisa Johnson, interim county administrator, told Franklin County Commissioners Wednesday.
While I am a strong supporter of wind generation as a supplemental source of energy, it cannot replace additional baseload generation. Because wind is intermittent, it must be accompanied by baseload generation of some sort and currently is paired for the most part with natural gas because it is more efficient to power down and power up a gas-fired generator than to do so with a coal generator. However, to have the capacity to produce much more wind generation, Kansas will need additional transmission lines from west to east and south to north. ...For transmission lines to be financially viable, they need to move energy from baseload generation as well as wind generation. ...The bottom line is Kansas is short of baseload generating capacity, and we are short of transmission capacity in the larger region. We no longer can rest on the assumption that yearly transmission service will be available even if the utility has a power supplier.
The governor now says her voluntary standards for renewable power in Kansas aren't enough -- they should be law. At a press briefing in her office Friday, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said she'd like to see legislators codify goals for power companies to invest 10 percent in green energy by 2010 and 20 percent by 2020. Her statement comes as 27 states have mandated renewable standards, and the federal government is discussing doing so as well Kansas utilities traditionally have opposed such mandates. Instead, Sebelius and executives of the state's power companies agreed last year to voluntary goals.
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius zapped a coal-fired power plant bill with harsh criticism Thursday and said she'd sought to compromise with two western Kansas utilities on the issue but was rejected. "Kansas would be the coal capital of the country," Sebelius said in response to the bill, introduced Wednesday by lawmakers upset at her administration for rejecting a permit for two $3.6 billion plants near Holcomb. ...Emler said the legislation was unique nationally because it would let Sunflower mitigate its carbon emissions by investing in research, wind power or other green initiatives. It also imposes a $3-a-ton penalty tax on carbon emissions for failure to meet the bill's standards. Sebelius scoffed at the provisions, noting the bill offered no realistic change in emissions limits, and a $3 tax was far lower than the $20- to $30-a-ton estimates that utility companies, financial analysts and Congress are now considering as a potential federal carbon tax.
Three meteorological towers were approved with flying colors during Monday morning's Ellis County Commission meeting. "The board unanimously approved it. I don't see anything wrong with it," Commissioner Vernon Berens said. Ellis County Zoning Administrator Dale Wing said all of the materials have been filed for the three meteorological towers, which will be west of Hays and be used to measure wind speeds as part of proposed wind energy developments. "I don't see anything wrong with the towers," Commissioner Perry Henman said. "The only question is time. How long will they use them?" Krista Gordon, project manager of CPV Wind Hays, said the towers will not be up for more than five years.
Construction on the state's largest wind farm to date will begin next week near Concordia, signaling another step in the growth of renewable power in Kansas. But a coalition of wind energy and turbine companies told the state Senate Utilities Committee Tuesday morning that Kansas needs to signal greater desire on several fronts if it wishes to become a major player in the wind energy industry. ...Margy Stewart said the state needs to approach the issue with caution and carefully regulate where wind farms build. "These developments that are unthinkingly promoted will destroy native prairie," said Stewart, who represents the McDowell Creek Tourism Association in the Flint Hills. A bill to put state guidelines for wind-farm siting into law is expected to be considered by legislators sometime this session. However, developers are bullish on the prospects for thousands of new megawatts of wind power to flow from Kansas transmission lines.