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Wabaunsee County Needs Clean Energy

By James Bordonaro
Opinion | January 8, 2010

EMPORIA, Kan. - A recent Kansas Supreme Court decision upheld the Wabaunsee County Commission's decision to enact a countywide ban on commercial wind turbines. I don't fault the Court's reasoning -- I am very disappointed in Wabaunsee's elected officials and in the citizens of Wabaunsee who supported the restrictions.

The legal challenge centered primarily on the wording of a state statute which regulates the process by which a County or City Commission can override the recommendation of an appointed planning commission. Here, the Wabaunsee County planning commission had been tasked with review of a development proposal for a commercial wind farm way back at the beginning of the last decade. After an extremely long review process which included several public hearings at which some citizens complained about the aesthetic appeal of wind turbines in the Flint Hills, the County Commission, by a 2-1 vote, overrode the recommendation of their planning commission and determined that no permits should be issued any where in the county for commercial wind farms. The County Commission also imposed severe limits on smaller residential wind turbines. This action puts regional development of commercial wind farms in jeopardy and proclaims Wabaunsee County as unfriendly to alternative energy. I would be happy to reach out the environmentally minded citizens of Wabaunsee County to and discuss their concerns. My bottom line is that America needs clean energy and every wind turbine built in the Flint Hills is another step to preventing more coal fire power plants being built elsewhere in Kansas.


4 Comments

The title of your post is illogical. You say that Wabaunsee needs wind power. But why? Having wind farms in your county won't create jobs in your county. Wind farms don't hire people. It won't create a tax base. Wind farms are exempted from paying taxes. It won't even create profits for local businesses. And, it won't even produce energy that will be used in Wabaunsee county. The energy will be sold to power companies in other states. And, finally, all the profits will also go out-of-state and probably even go out of the country.


There have been good points made - both pro and con. It seems to me that the rush to build wind farms has been so exuberant that many locations have not thought through their needs for local zoning and other regulations, prior to entertaining the offers from the energy companies. Hopefully the rights of the little guys will be thought through, codified and protected as these huge wind installations move into Kansas.


Thanks for writing this James. Your articles are always so well written and give much to think about. I enjoy reading everything you write.

I know that out here in far western Kansas, people are falling all over each other to build these wind farms. I agree with what some others have said about how we need regulations however to make sure that those living next to these industrial complexes are duly protected and/or compensated. Right now, in many counties, no rules exist that protect the county or its people from abuses by these wind companies. Some of the companies are European or Middle Eastern and are not even U.S. based. I hope that we use common sense in choosing locations and protecting the rights of effected people who own land nearby.

James - you are one of my favorite writers.


James is one of my favorite writers (and people) too. He's down-to-earth, smart and sincere. We're lucky to have him writing with us.


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