Bill would limit wind farms in Kansas

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Forty-one percent of the state’s electricity is coming from wind energy. That’s second most in the nation, but some people are saying that’s high enough.

A new bill would put major restrictions on wind farms in Kansas.

People from across the state came to Topeka to share stories about living next to turbines, or being concerned about the possibility of a farm.

“I live in an off-grid solar house, I am not opposed to green energy, however I think it needs to be done responsibly and in the right way,” said Esther Egli, who traveled from Reno County.

The bill would put restrictions on where wind turbines can go, and how construction is approved.
Many wind energy advocates are against the bill.

“Not only are we talking a taking of individuals private property rights, but we’re also talking about literally by way of a piece of legislation just washing our hands of billions of dollars, billions of dollars of potential investment over the next 10 to 20 years,” said Kimberly Svaty with Kansas Advanced Power Alliance.

Turbines would need to be at least 1.5 miles from a home, 3 miles from an airport or park, and one mile from another person’s property line. There also couldn’t be more than one turbine per square mile. The amount of shadows and noise could also be taken into consideration.

The sight and sound of turbines is a complaint that was brought up in the bill’s committee hearing Monday.

“I’ve worked in wind farms where I was working within a thousand feet of wind turbine, and if the conditions are right and it’s facing the right direction, it is obnoxiously loud, you can almost feel it every time those blades turn,” said Frankfort resident Jonathan Sill.

Wind energy advocates said they want to work with concerned Kansans, but a bill like this is already making some companies concerned about the future.

“To have the rug literally pulled out from underneath you, that should send a signal to all business and industry across Kansas, that maybe this isn’t the most stable place to do business,” Svaty said. “Because even if you’re successful, there could be some that are going to seek to derail you.”

Opponents of the bill will get their chance to talk to lawmakers on Tuesday.

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