TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas legislative committee’s leader lit a political prairie fire with a proposal that critics say would end investments in a wind energy industry that has grown into the state’s largest supplier of electricity.
State Senate Utilities Committee Chairman Mike Thompson said Wednesday that he is trying to protect landowners who fear that a proliferation of large turbines in their rural areas will drop property values and harm their quality of life. Thompson, a conservative Shawnee Republican, is pursuing a bill that would impose statewide regulations limiting turbines to one per square mile and keeping them 1.5 miles from any home or public building.
The proposal has split fellow Republicans and inspired a strong backlash not only from environmentalists but also economic development officials who see wind energy as a jobs creator. Thompson said he’s not backing off, but he also hadn’t scheduled a committee vote after two days of hearings this week.