Monday, April 30, 2007

It Only Takes One

I am a NIMBY Obstructionist and I'm not afraid to say so. My husband and I lost our home to wind 8 1/2 years ago and I don't want to loose my property value, peace and quiet, health, and my "little piece of heaven" to wind again.

On October 16, 1998 at a little after seven that Friday evening our home was destroyed by a tornado. My husband, two children, and I were fine. We took cover in a small shelter under our garage. Coming out of that shelter to see your home completely destroyed is something I wouldn't wish on anyone. You realize this just doesn't happen to people on television. You are that person on television.

I didn't have any control over the wind from the tornado back in October of 1998 when it destroyed by home, bit I can fight with everything I can think of to stop this proposed industrial wind complex from destroying my property value, peace and quiet, health, and "my little piece of heaven."

I do not want them in my back yard. These enormous wind turbines don't belong in anyone's back yard. There are many areas in western Kansas where they can be placed without being in someone's back yard.

Along with the concerns about property value, noise, and health, I also have another big concern. What would happen if a tornado hit one of these wind turbines. We've hardly ever had a tornado around here you might say, bit it only takes one. I know. Tornadoes are rare in October, but they happen. I know.

We lived in a double wide put down on a foundation. Two metal I-beams 60 feet long were placed in the foundation and our home was placed on top of these two I-beams and strapped down. After the tornado the only thing left of our home was the concrete foundation. Where were the two I-beams? One was mangled and lying next to Highway 40.

Where was the other one? The other 60-foot I-beam pierced our neighbors home hitting their living room. These were two 60-foot I-beams two feet off the ground. The wind carried one about a quarter of a mile from our place to Highway 40.

My greatest fear is what would happen if a tornado hit one or more of the 140 wind turbines proposed for our area. How far would a 150-foot blade travel that is almost 400 feet in the air? What would it pierce?

The tornado that destroyed our home came from the southwest. do you realize how many wind turbines would have been in the path of that tornado if there would have been an industrial wind complex in this area back then? I shudder to think of that scenario.

There are so many homes in the proposed complex area and to be just a few miles from hays one never knows what might happen. This is not necessary. Maybe the zoning board, county commissioners, and the paper should investigate this aspect.

Do you really want to take a chance and find out after a tornado hits a wind turbine? For me, I am a NIMBY and I don't want to find out the hard way. It only takes one.

Jeanne Riedel
Hays, KS

To Sign the Petition:
If you are an Ellis County, Kansas, resident and you wish to support a petition to stop this wind farm from being constructed next to Hays, Kansas, you can follow this link and leave your name, real address, and a single comment about your support of this petition. Click here now!

Living with Industrial Wind Turbines

Below is the testimony presented on April 30, 2007, to a Committee of the Maine legislature by Ms. Wendy Todd who, with her family, lives near the "wind farm." Mars Hill went on line this winter. Our own group, Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition hopes that by sharing Ms. Todd's testimony with the people of Ellis County, we can envision the problems that would exist here for our own residents if a wind farm is allowed to be built close to our community. We hope that Ellis County residents never have to endure the hardship that Ms. Todd has. Here are her words:

Senators, Representatives, and Committee Members,

Thank you for allowing me to speak. My name is Wendy Todd. I am from Aroostook County. I am a resident of Mars Hill and live approximately 2600 feet from the Mars Hill Wind Project. I am here today to offer testimony that residents around the project are suffering. There are 18 families that I know of that are negatively impacted on a regular basis from the noise, strobe effect and shadow flicker from the turbines. Most of these 18 families live less than 3000 feet from the turbines. There is no one that I know of from 425 East Ridge Road to 212 Mountain Road that does not agree that there are issues with noise. Issues that are changing the way residents view life around the mountain. We have formed a group called the Mountain Landowners Association in an attempt to share information and come up to speed on the issues of living this close to turbines of this size and generation. We have had to struggle through massive amounts of documentation from the Internet and from other towns that are dealing with the same issues.

We have tried and I believe have succeeded in finding the answers to many of our questions but it has all been from our own efforts. We have received very little help from our town or the company that sited the windmills. Nick Archer with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection has been a helpful resource, but I believe even he would say that the State has a ways to go to educate itself on the pros and cons of wind turbines and how to best site a project. It would be a recommendation from our group for the State to look to California and other states in the nation that have been dealing with these issues for years, as well as other countries who have gleaned a great deal of information from years of studies, to help form guidelines to protect not only the land but the residents that live nearby proposed projects. We should learn from those who have gone before us. We shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Let me make it very clear that no one in our group is opposed to wind turbines. We are for alternative, renewable forms of energy. Some from our group supported this project from the beginning. Some hated the project from the beginning and still do. Some were on the fence, but because of the points of renewable energy, landowner rights and proposed benefits for our town, county and state were swayed to sacrifice precious views of Mars Hill Mountain and our quiet with the disruption of the construction phase of the project. Nobody really knew or realized what was about to happen and how it would change our lives.

My husband and I moved to Southern Maine after we were married. We left for the adventure and for good paying jobs. We lived in Portland for 2 years then purchased our first home in Buxton, Maine. That house sat about 40 feet from the edge of Route 22 (a major route leading to/from Portland) and was directly in the path of the approach to and from Portland International Jetport. The noise at that little house could reach unbelievable levels, but somehow we learned to deal with them. After 10 years of planning and saving we moved back home to Mars Hill where I was born and raised. The desire was to get away from the craziness of the corporate world, the noise that surrounded us and to seek solitude and a place to raise our children.

My family has owned land on Mars Hill Mountain for almost 100 years. My father and grandfather were potato farmers. I learned from a very young age to have a close connection with the land from my parents. They allowed us to carve out a small lot in the center of the family farm and we began the process of building our dream home.

Part of that process was to ask questions about the proposed wind farm. We learned early on that the town residences would not have an opportunity to vote on this $55 million dollar project. I attended the Evergreen / UPC TIF meeting in Mars Hill, in November of 2004. At the meeting the question of noise was posed. The answers are documented. Basically the noise was described as silent, nearly silent and you would have to be 500 feet or less from the site to hear it. Printed documents and the UPC, Evergreen Web site stated that, “You will not be able to hear any noise at all at the bottom of the mountain.” The morning after the TIF meeting I was at the town office and got to speak directly with Peter Gish from UPC. I told him where my parents lived and described where we hoped to build and asked whether noise would be an issue. He said, “You won’t hear anything from these things.” Our town manager confirmed that this was true because he had visited a site in Canada and heard very little noise being emitted from the site.

Perrin and I on a visit to PEI took a drive to the north shore to stand under the turbines there and found them not to be intrusive. We felt we had enough proof on the issue of noise that we went ahead and built our home. We figured that if we could deal with the aesthetics and the construction phase that we would be fine. If we had known then what we know now or if we had been made aware of the noise section of the permit with the sound analysis from RSE, we would never have built where we did. The report from RSE clearly stated that some residences would experience noise levels at or above DEP level limits. My parents own over 200 acres of land, many of which are much further away from the turbines.

Clear cutting began in the fall of 2005. I believe the figure is 150 acres of land that was cleared. Heavy equipment started the process of developing roads and in April of 2006 blasting started. We watched with heavy hearts as the North end peak was literally blown away. No one ever notified us of the blasting, but our houses shook, silverware and dishes rattled, and sheet rock dust fell as it took place. Soon the huge trucks arrived with the components of the wind turbines. Traffic was interrupted which made daily comings and goings difficult. The cranes arrived and the towers began to rise. People came from all over to watch. Cars stopped in the middle of the road to view the spectacle. People repeatedly left their vehicles to take pictures with not even a thought to oncoming traffic. Residents with small children started keeping them inside due to the uncertainty of the increased traffic.

In early December #9 turbine was turned on and some residents knew immediately that there was something wrong. The noise from just that one turbine was unbelievable. That is when residents began to make calls, first to UPC, then to the town and then to the DEP.

I’m not sure why, but we are not getting used to the noise levels from the wind farm. In an attempt to find out why, we started researching the topic on the internet and I finally called a noise expert out of Massachusetts who was able to instruct us on why the noises that come from wind turbines are so offensive. I have those documents if any one would like to see them.

Are there other issues with wind turbines? Yes. Most of which were discovered after the wind turbines were already in place. Noise is the largest problem but shadow flicker and strobe effect are close behind for some of the residents. The rising and setting sun pierce through the blades of the turbines creating a strobe like effect in some of the resident’s homes. For some it is blinding, even the best curtains and blinds can’t remove the total effect. Some find that it makes them dizzy and disoriented; others find that it can cause headaches and nausea. It is only for 20 to 40 minutes a day (when the sun is shining) depending on the season of the year, but it is still an intrusion into the homes and lives of the people who live near the site. The strobe effect can be similar to the sun cutting through the trees as you drive (sun-shadow- sun-shadow).

Shadow flicker is when the shadow from the blades passes over the land and homes of people who live within a mile of the site. It too can make people feel disoriented. Some people complain that as they drive over a road that is being shaded that the motion draws them toward it (left or right) they find themselves veering into the wrong lane.

Residents are very concerned that the value of their properties has been greatly diminished. This brings fear to many of us because we have tied up most of our resources in our homes. What will there be for our children? Is it the same as it would have been before the turbines? Some residents have said that their way of life has changed so dramatically since the project that they would move if they thought for 1 minute that they could recover their investment. Please, keep in mind that these are people who dreamed of living behind the mountain. Who sacrificed many things to build the homes of their dreams with no intention of ever leaving. Imagine being driven from your home by a neighbor. Imagine feeling like you have no recourse and that there is nothing you can do about it.

Other issues that keep coming up are the risk of the turbines catching fire (consider fighting a fire 200 feet off the ground.) If there was a dry spell and the mountain was to catch on fire many of us would lose our homes.

Another issue is the potential for ice and snow build up on the blades in the wintertime, which during the melting process can be thrown hundreds of feet. (two teens at Big Rock ski resort witnessed an ice throw this winter)

There have even been documented cases of improperly anchored turbines falling over or collapsing and of blades breaking off and being flung. These are very rare cases but that doesn’t make residents feel any better about the possibility. Some of these residents are only about 700 feet from turbine #1, which sits very close to East Ridge Road. So close that if it fell toward the road it would likely be in the road. Also posing a danger are the blades that are likely to break off and be thrown into nearby yards and homes.

We are only 5 months into the operation of this site. We are learning something new almost every day. The Mountain Landowners Association is requesting that the State of Maine put a moratorium on all siting of Wind Farms in the state until the issues at Mars Hill are reviewed and resolved.

My husband says…

It is sad when corporations are free to prey on small towns and small town government. He believes that corporations should not be able to push and bully their way into an area to take clear advantage of the inhabitants by withholding information, by leading them to believe fabrications, stretching the truth in order to achieve corporate goals at the suffering of Maine residents.

We have been asked by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to remain patient while the sound analysis is being conducted and reviewed. Resource Systems Engineering (RSE) of Brunswick, Maine is performing the sound analysis. They (RSE) also happen to be contracted by UPC / Evergreen (the company responsible for the Mars Hill Wind project). This fact raises questions within our group as to whether the analysis will be fair. We have been assured by the DEP that this is a fair process. Unfortunately we have become skeptical of many things. Both the DEP and UPC have told us, that this could take a long time to resolve. The residents of Mars Hill will try to remain patient but we want for everyone to know that our patience is growing short with no hope of resolution in sight.

(Submitted by Wendy Todd)

To Sign the Petition:
If you are an Ellis County, Kansas, resident and you wish to support a petition to stop this wind farm from being constructed next to Hays, Kansas, you can follow this link and leave your name, real address, and a single comment about your support of this petition. Click here now!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Maps: Exactly Where Turbines Would Be Built in Hays

While I am in favor of wind energy, in general - I strongly believe that these very large industrial complexes and huge turbines should be built in unpopulated areas.

The industrial wind complex that private developers are hoping to build in Hays, Kansas, is very large - very close to the city of Hays - and, extremely close to homes. It is TOO close. These turbines do not belong this close to the city of Hays.

It is crazy and ludicrous to consider building such an unsightly and unsafe industrial complex so close to Hays! There are many cultivated farms (and uncultivated, for that matter) in farther western Kansas that could use the private revenues generated from wind turbines. These complexes belong in less populated counties. Ellis County is the wrong place to build it.

Check out these two maps for yourself. You should see for yourself how close these huge turbines would be to homes and to Hays. This should be of interest to all Ellis County citizens. Just click these thumbnail images to see the full-size maps.

This first map is the best as it shows the rezoning area very clearly:

(This last graphic is courtesy of the Hays Daily News)

To Sign the Petition:
If you are an Ellis County, Kansas, resident and you wish to support a petition to stop this wind farm from being constructed next to Hays, Kansas, you can follow this link and leave your name, real address, and a single comment about your support of this petition. Click here now!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Confessions of a NIMBY Obstructionist

Insight is a quirky phenomenon. If one will only linger long enough to permit it, much more can be learned in a debate than that which is readily accessible. I, like many in the community, have been wrestling with the realities of the current industrial wind proposal in Ellis County. As affected community members, some others and I have voiced concerns.

As a result, we have been categorized by some as “Not In My Back Yard” (NIMBY) opponents of progress. As labels go, this one is uniformly negative, leveled at those not enlightened enough to see the big picture or too self centered to sacrifice for the greater good.

Having invested a significant amount of personal time and resources in a graduate education and teaching at a state university, I have an affinity to think of myself as, at the very least, marginally “enlightened”. However, having been castigated for my position, I am forced to consider the possibility that my educational investment has gone the way of an Enron retirement account. Determined to rebuff the charge, I spent some time examining the accusation. The results of my scrutiny were, at first, a tad disturbing. As is the case in many debates, listening fully to the statements of others, often brings insight into your own.

While reflecting on the validity of the charge, I found no escape from the precision of the indictment. The hard truth is, I am much more interested in this debate than I would otherwise be, if only I had the fortune of being blissfully unaware of the predicament of those faced with the realities of this proposed industrial development. No doubt had I lived east of Hays, I would have found many other “important” things to occupy my time. After all, like most of us in the modern world, I’m a pretty busy guy. If it were not for the “misfortune” of living in the center of an area proposed to house eight to ten 400 foot towers within a half mile from my house (and at least three within half that distance), I may likely have continued with my day, perhaps pausing slightly to consider with genuine sympathy, the plight of those poor souls west of town. Though it pains me to say it now, (most personal growth is uncomfortable), if it were not for living in the proposed area, I would have missed several truths ranging from the mundane to the sublime.

One of the simple truths I have come to understand is that even if I lived east of Hays, I would not have escaped the potential adverse effects of this proposal. In the case of 140 structures each one at least 50 feet taller than the tallest building in Kansas, sweeping an area of the sky larger than a Boeing 747, a mere few miles won’t make much of a difference. For reasons far too numerous to enumerate here, the specifics of this proposal could potentially have a negative impact on every single person residing in Ellis county (perhaps excepting those few whose land they sit on). It’s not just those living underneath the giant turbines that will experience the ill effects of them.

A more meaningful truth I have come to realize is that people, who accuse someone of being a NIMBY obstructionist, do so thinking they are illuminating some great character flaw in the recipient. That being the case, if the accusation has merit, it certainly is an indictment of humanity as a whole. The thing is, people do and should care about what affects them, and those close to them. When this accusation is leveled, it is done so because of an agenda, in this case, a strong financial incentive and a wish to discredit those expressing concern. In reality however, it is a natural and healthy reaction for those who must live with the consequences of an action to proceed with concern.

I would propose that it is the actions of the “PITBY” (Put In Their Back Yard) variety that can be the most insidious and that must be scrutinized with tremendous caution. What would motivate a developer from the Denver Colorado area, representing the interests of a Spanish utility company, to place an industrial utility development covering almost 12,000 acres in the center of Ellis County on the doorstep of the most populated city in northwest Kansas?

Though the preceding truths I mentioned are significant, they pale in comparison to the most profound understanding I have come to through this journey. As I mentioned previously, I am without a doubt “guilty” of the NIMBY syndrome. Of greater consequence, I sincerely hope that as many people as possible will step forward to share my “guilt”. Citizens taking responsibility to become involved in what happens around them is one of the core principles on which this great American experiment was founded.

Responsible citizens are compelled to watch over their backyard. For instance, we try to keep poverty, not poor people, out of our back yards by developing social programs, giving to the United Way and our local churches. We invest in public education programs to warn others of the dangers of addiction and other heath hazards. We endeavor to rid our society of child sexual abuse and spend our time and resources both caring for those victimized by sexual abuse and punishing those perpetrating it.

Many citizens have concerns about how this particular industrial development will affect them, their family and their community. At the present time, these concerns are so strong that they are compelled to declare to the decision makers, “Not in our backyard!”

Well meaning people on both sides of any debate may differ as to the best course of action. In some situations there are no simple solutions. However, as luck would have it, this is not one of those situations. We need renewable energy to power the world. We also need to protect the health and well-being of those in our back yard. Fortunately, in this situation, we can have both. Build the turbines in areas of Kansas where it limits the impact on their neighbors, keeping them out of everyone’s back yard. There are literally hundreds of sites in western Kansas where if need be, thousands of turbines can be built, with corresponding setbacks measured in miles, not feet, from residences.

If standing up for what I believe is the right thing to do for myself, my family, my neighbors and my community, results in some labeling me a NIMBY obstructionist, I for one will proudly wear that label. Perhaps in some small way these efforts will encourage others to exercise their voice as well. Conceivably it may also result in a more productive conversation and produce a more collaborate effort to engage the issue at hand. In the meantime, I will continue engaging my convictions and maintaining involvement in the discourse, in the effort to keep something that threatens the physical, social and economic well-being out of my community, and out of my backyard.

To Sign the Petition:
If you are an Ellis County, Kansas, resident and you wish to support a petition to stop this wind farm from being constructed next to Hays, Kansas, you can follow this link and leave your name, real address, and a single comment about your support of this petition. Click here now!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

May 2nd! All Citizens Invited! Free Public Meeting!

You won't want to miss this one!

Mark your calendars for May 2nd at 7:00 PM! All citizens of Ellis County, Kansas, are welcome to attend a very interesting and very enlightening free presentation at the Fox Pavilion, 1202 Main Street, Downtown Hays. Beverage service available; seating for 450 people!

This is a great opportunity to gather some facts about the proposed wind farm and to see and talk with other local citizens in Ellis County about the project. Admission is free but seating may be limited. Come early and make sure that you get a good seat!

Get involved with your community! Join us for this civic event!

Please click the picture above to see or print the flyer to share with others!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Our Own Little Spot on Earth

The following is a copy of what I am sending in to The Hays Daily News Reader's Forum. I am posting a copy of this in case it doesn't get "selected" for printing in the HDN.

How would you answer this question? Where is the one place in this world that you can call your own? A place that you can physically point to, locate on a map and has your name on a document that proves - it is yours. For most of us - the answer would be our home, our property, our land. I know this is true for my family and I.

My home is my little spot on this earth that I can take refuge, relax and be myself. My home consists of a little under five acres, a two-story farmhouse built in 1917 and a horse barn. Owning your own home and property is the "American dream," the quest that so many seek and the "right of passage" from being "footloose and fancy free" to being grounded, steady and mature. Our homes and property define us somewhat. It gives clues to what we like, what we do and who we are.

I am free to do as I want with my home as long as I follow some basic common sense rules or guidelines that keep me and my home on the right track. The first rule is that I cannot do anything on my property that breaks the law. The second rule is that I cannot do anything on my property that infringes on others' property or well-being around me. These two very basic rules and guidelines have been a part of our country since the beginning. It is similar to the golden rule of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

When home and property owners follow these very simple, basic, common sense guidelines - home ownership is most rewarding. By following these guidelines, everyone has the opportunity to own their little spot on this earth and live in peace. It is when one of these guidelines is not followed, that our little place on earth that we can call our own - is threatened.

I, of course, am referring to the proposed wind industrial complex southwest of Hays. This complex that will cover over 10,000 acres and overshadow many more - breaks the second rule - that of infringing on others' property and well-being. The infringement consists of having to live in the shadows of 400 foot machines, noise, increased lightening strikes, lessoning of property values and the potential for health problems. The resources outlining these problems have been spoken about, written about and documented since this project has surfaced for those who care to find out the truth.

Persons in the position of making decisions regarding this proposal are supposed to protect us and our property from these infringements. These people have the duty and obligation with what they have signed on to do, to put any biases, potential for financial gain or basic local politics aside - and make a decision based on those two very simple concepts outlined above. The rule of thumb for most actions and decisions such as these is to "error on the side of caution." The wind turbines will effect homeowners surrounding and in the midst of them. We can argue about how much it will effect those around this complex forever - but there is no question that it will effect those around the complex. So - based on that simple concept alone - in that the wind industrial complex will effect homeowners surrounding it - the judgement or decision that must be made to, at the very least, "error on the side of caution," would be to disapprove of this proposal.

I hope that those who have found themselves in the capacity of making this very important decision will simply do what their role was created to do. Follow the two rules outlined above and error on the side of caution - putting blinders on to any biases, financial gain or local politics.

Please help us all to hold onto the idea that we can have our own little spot on earth that is protected from the infringement of others.

Sheryl Butler
779 Golf Course Rd. Hays

To Sign the Petition:
If you are an Ellis County, Kansas, resident and you wish to support a petition to stop this wind farm from being constructed next to Hays, Kansas, you can follow this link and leave your name, real address, and a single comment about your support of this petition. Click here now!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Hays Daily News: Fair & Balanced Wind Farm Coverage?

You be the judge. We already know from our supporters just how many letters protesting the wind energy development project have not been printed in the Hays Daily, and how many people have been apparently allowed only one letter without any follow-ups. Now we have the managing editor pretending to walk the middle ground in an opinion piece, all while undermining the position of opponents with a slew of half truths and fallacies.

In the piece, "Wind Giant Blows into the High Plains, by Ron Fields, April 13, 2007", Ron starts out talking about what a 'big dog' Iberdrola is (the Spanish corporation that just bought all CPV wind venture holdings) and implies how lucky Ellis County is to be 'picked from the litter'. We receive these nuggets of information, among others.

RF: "Iberdrola has 4,400MW of capacity in place, with another 15,000MW in development globally."
"To say Iberdrola is in growth mode is an understatement"
"They’re coming in with full force,” Belyeu said. “And I’ve heard that’s kind of their M.O."

So much for in-depth reporting. How about these quotes on Iberdrola that I translated from an article written about them in their home country entitled: Iberdrola: Neither Green Nor a Clean Player: "Of the large businesses in the sector, (Iberdrola) is one of the most invested in the generation of electricity from renewable sources, specifically wind power and mini-hydroelectric projects. Notwithstanding, these installations form only a small part of their generating facilities. During 2002, according to data released by their own company, generation from renewables did not reach 4% of their total production. The bulk of the energy sold under the ‘brand name’ Iberdrola is of nuclear origin, specifically 46% in 2002, and the rest was derived from coal and other fossil fuels (28%), large hydroelectric dams (18%) and ‘combined cycle’ cogeneration facilities. For Ecologists in Action, the company’s publicity of its tiny proportion of low environmental impact generation constitutes a blatant attempt to defraud consumers who, purchasing power from Iberdrola, believe they are utilizing electricity that will not generate any environmental problems."

"But the truth lies very far from the promotional statements. The accumulation of highly active radioactive waste directly attributable to the participation of Iberdrola in the operation of centralized nuclear reactors rose to 1.294 metric tons in 2002. The disposal of these wastes is not the responsibility of the company, but rather all citizens who pay and must continue to pay for their storage for the duration of their hazardous lifespan… To this must be added the production of radioactive wastes of medium and low activity that are stored in El Cabril (Cordoba) in a government installation. Ecologists in Action estimate that in 2002 the nuclear activities of Iberdrola sent to El Cabril 568 cubic meters of these wastes… "

"The company takes pride in the high proportion of its electrical generation that does not contribute to CO2 generation, yet their own emissions in the past year surpassed 13.5 million metric tons."

"For Ecologists in Action, renewable energies form only a small part of the business of Iberdrola, a company that continues to create a large environmental impact and that gives no indication of achieving any substantial reduction in the future."

So back to Ron Field's article… "There has been ample opposition to CPV Wind Hays’ proposed 135-turbine wind plant pitched for the west side of town, especially from folks in the immediate vicinity who won’t directly reap the benefits of a business arrangement with the company."

Precisely. And that's because there are only a handful of these 'benefit reapers'. Why don’t you perform some useful journalism Ron - maybe print for public view the financial contract for this deal so we can see exactly where all the money is going?

"One wonders why the windmill farm will be tucked so snugly against town. If there’s one thing northwest Kansas has, it’s space."

The easy answer to your question is two words: selfish greed. On the part of landowners for easy money, and on the part of the corporation who would love to use the existing Hays power grid to avoid costs of upgrading infrastructure elsewhere.

"Concerns over 24/7 “whoop-whoops,” aesthetics and property values are certainly valid and must be weighed against the overall economic benefit to the county and the region. But some concerns come across as sour grapes…"

Sour grapes!? I think you would have to actually receive some grapes in order to determine if they are sour or not. There is no compensation package proposed for those whose property values would plummet.

RF: "One gripe: The energy is being sold to Denver. Don’t we all want to export more of our locally produced goods and services? Isn’t that a good thing? Isn’t the idea to replace fossil-fuel generated power with renewable-sourced energy on the national grid?"

Actually, we have no idea where the energy will be sold - we don't even know how many times the WHOLE PROJECT will be sold - before the first tower goes in. It might be a good thing if the Hays Community were getting compensated fairly for this industrial mega-project, but we aren't. The huge environmental costs of harvesting this wind will all be borne locally, while the local share of direct profits from such projects (typically 3-4 %) will all go to just a few families. As far as replacing fossil-fuel generated power, wind energy CANNOT do that in its present form. Actual wind power production averages 1/3 or less of 'nameplate' capacity. They are realizing that in Europe right now after 20 years of follies and environmental tragedies.

Germany has 48 gigawatts of 'nameplate' wind energy generation capability but its ACTUAL USE in an average year is only 2 gigawatts, such is the unreliability of wind power. Here is a quote from the Chairman of the Federal Association for Landscape Protection in Germany: "Soon we "celebrate" the 20,000th wind plant, without replacing even one single small plant of conventional energy."

But you don’t have to go that far abroad. According to utility company records, power produced by the Montezuma, KS, wind complex during the heat wave of July last year - a period of peak demand - was only 3% of it's nameplate capacity. Wind power is typically not there when you need it - and turbines continue to spin needlessly when other power sources are online.

RF: "Another: Wind farms create an environmental wasteland. Isn’t this exactly the kind of project green folks have been clamoring over for the past 25 years? Is the evil in the morality equation harmful emissions that are decaying Mother Earth or fat, rich-guy wallets?"

Both Ron. I guess you didn't take any ecology during your journalism degree. Yes, 'green folks' have been clamoring for renewable energy, but this is not green power, it is inefficient, unreliable power generation mandated by ill-advised, if well-intentioned, government subsidies. The wind may be free, but each of these monster machines comes with a massive carbon and environmental footprint that far exceeds whatever carbon emission reductions are achieved by its operation, if any. Keep in mind, each tower installation causes geological disturbance to an area larger than a football field, and that's not counting all the access roads required. Other municipalities have demanded decommissioning bonds of $1,000,000 per tower - our agreement has no binding provision for any decommissioning whatsoever.

Keith Martin, Chadbourne and Parke, LLP, Financing Wind Power conference, Dec. 3-5, 2003, New York, N.Y. (a wind power developer, plying his wares): "Federal tax benefits pay as much as 65% of the capital cost of wind power projects in the United States." So Ron, maybe now you can see what kind of dog food your 'big dog' has been eating. In the words of Congressman Pete Stark of Hayward, who led the fight to terminate the investment tax credits for wind power generation in California, "These aren't wind farms, they're tax farms".

RF: "Another: This is a secret deal being pushed under the noses of an unsuspecting public. Nope. Our stories on this project date back to at least the fall of 2005."

From a quote by Commissioner Henry Schwaller IV within the Hays Daily's own story on the Aug. 27, 2005 meeting: "This has happened in seven days,” he said. “You’ve had a year and a half and we’ve only had seven days to consider it.” So apparently even the Commissioners felt ambushed at that time. And if, as a resident, you weren't fortunate enough to notice a series of blurbs in the Hays Daily, well too bad for you if you're uninformed, right Ron? That was fair public disclosure, in your book.

In fact, several of your early articles speak of failed proposals, and the only positive ones suggest a series of 40-50 turbines, a number that has somehow mushroomed to 140 and possibly more.

Here we have more than 50 families completely blindsided by the imminence of this obscene project and a zoning notification is sent out only to those people whose properties are within 1000 feet of a windmill! You can hear these things from more than a mile away and see them from 20 miles! Still seem fair enough to you?

And if this project is so great for Hays, why haven’t these landowners been active in publicizing its benefits to the community? I would contend that there are none. And that $600.000 'bribe' to the county by CVP, you ask? Regardless of any contract, this will be considered an 'unrestricted gift'. It would be a 'payment without consideration' - tendered in lieu of taxation. Which means there is no legal recourse for the county in case of default on the payment, since the payment is not linked to any requirement to provide a service.

RF: "I haven’t decided about the Hays wind farm, but I do know that we should be collectively salivating and aggressively investigating any chance to add to our economic diversity and stimulate growth."

Fine Ron, but this is not the kind of 'growth' we want or need. The fact is, Hays is one community in western Kansas that is already growing - without any help from industrial wind power development, thank you very much. And this is exactly the type of development that will stifle many other kinds of more desirable growth. It will spell the end of all residential development west of town. People will fly in to the Hays airport from Denver and think, "Wow - I'm glad I don’t live down there."

Ron says he's undecided about the wind energy project, but I think that in truth he is uninformed. Hopefully next time Ron will do some actual research before pretending not to have an opinion on a subject.

To Sign the Petition:
If you are an Ellis County, Kansas, resident and you wish to support a petition to stop this wind farm from being constructed next to Hays, Kansas, you can follow this link and leave your name, real address, and a single comment about your support of this petition. Click here now!

Thursday, April 12, 2007


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