Wind farm would be advantage to region

opinions

December 22, 2016 - 12:00 AM

The evening of Jan. 29 Allen County’s planning commissioners are expected to complete a document laying out what is required of a company to locate a wind farm in the county.
Of emphasis will be a proposal by EDP Renewables to place turbines on farm ground in the northeast quadrant of the county. The company has options to lease about 12,000 acres and is negotiating with other landowners.
EDP’s intention is to start construction no earlier than 2018. Electricity produced by its turbines will flow to lines running along the east side of the county, and become part of that distributed through the regional grid.
To date, according to County Counselor Alan Weber, opposition has been meager. Five people have asked questions at previous planning sessions that could cast them as lukewarm at best. Only two have been contentious, he told county commissioners Tuesday.
The greatest concerns have been that the turbines could be hazardous to birds and disrupt other wildlife; are unsightly because atop each windmill will be a pulsating clearance light; and some see them as disturbing an otherwise pristine countryside.
A part of the enabling document will require a construction company erecting the turbines to repair any damage to roads or bridges. Setback requirements will keep turbines away from property lines. And with so many acres leased, the generators will not saturate any one section of land. EDP has assured it will pay property taxes on turbines as well as land set aside for their operation.
In Anderson County a different company has advanced plans for a wind farm, and has been met with organized opposition. A test tower in Anderson County was destroyed by vandals, an expensive outcome that apparently has given the company second thoughts.
Test towers are operating in Allen County, put up by EDP. Results have shown wind currents are sufficient for generation.

COMMISSIONERS are eager for economic development in the county. It is a watchword here and throughout southeast Kansas, which has been beset with economic woes for years. Some of the poorest areas in the eastern half of the state are found hereabouts.
To discourage a wind farm would be foolhardy.
Until now, Kansas provided lifetime property tax abatements for wind farms. That changed. Now the abatement is for 10 years. Payments in lieu of taxes are expected until wind farms go onto tax rolls.
Coffey County received a $495,500 payment in lieu of taxes for the first year of a wind farm’s operation near Waverly. A similar payment to Allen County will be negotiated. With foreknowledge of the Coffey County’s payment, commissioners will be well-armed.
During the construction phase of about a year, 250 to 350 workers will be involved — living here and patronizing stores and restaurants and buying fuel, much as did those who built the Enbridge pipeline and pumping station near Humboldt.
For the life of the wind farm, about 15 full-time employees will be hired for maintenance and repair requirements.

TIMES CHANGE and we must adjust to technological advances. We can’t go back to the dark ages; who would want to.
Renewable power promises to have more of a presence in the years ahead, even if president-elect Donald Trump follows through with his promise to revive the coal industry. Climate change to the negative, caused in some measure by pollutants from fossil fuels, is a fact that scientists — save perhaps a few who tinker as alchemists — agree is occurring and will continue to be a concern. (A look at China’s smog problems this week is instructive.)
Some aspects of a wind farm may have a downside, but their positives trump it several times over.
— Bob Johnson
The evening of Jan. 29 Allen County’s planning commissioners are expected to complete a document laying out what is required of a company to locate a wind farm in the county.
Of emphasis will be a proposal by EDP Renewables to place turbines on farm ground in the northeast quadrant of the county. The company has options to lease about 12,000 acres and is negotiating with other landowners.
EDP’s intention is to start construction no earlier than 2018. Electricity produced by its turbines will flow to lines running along the east side of the county, and become part of that distributed through the regional grid.
To date, according to County Counselor Alan Weber, opposition has been meager. Five people have asked questions at previous planning sessions that could cast them as lukewarm at best. Only two have been contentious, he told county commissioners Tuesday.
The greatest concerns have been that the turbines could be hazardous to birds and disrupt other wildlife; are unsightly because atop each windmill will be a pulsating clearance light; and some see them as disturbing an otherwise pristine countryside.
A part of the enabling document will require a construction company erecting the turbines to repair any damage to roads or bridges. Setback requirements will keep turbines away from property lines. And with so many acres leased, the generators will not saturate any one section of land. EDP has assured it will pay property taxes on turbines as well as land set aside for their operation.
In Anderson County a different company has advanced plans for a wind farm, and has been met with organized opposition. A test tower in Anderson County was destroyed by vandals, an expensive outcome that apparently has given the company second thoughts.
Test towers are operating in Allen County, put up by EDP. Results have shown wind currents are sufficient for generation.

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