Lawmakers hear from opponents, supporters of wind farm

RENO COUNTY, Kan. (KWCH) Friday February 22, 2019

A Kansas House committee heard from both sides of a controversy over proposed restrictions on wind farm developments in the state.

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would require any new turbines to be installed at least 1.5 miles from homes and 3 miles from an airport, park or hunting area.

On Thursday, wind farm operators told the House Committee on Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications the bill was an attack on the free market.

The Topeka Capital Journal reports representatives for NextEra Energy and Enel Green Power said the companies have invested billions of dollars in Kansas, paid millions to landowners and created thousands of jobs.

On Tuesday, opponents of wind farms complained to the committee about noise from the turbines and expressed concern about possible health problems caused by the machines.
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A House Bill requiring distance between wind farms and residential areas is headed to a committee hearing in Topeka this week.

House Bill 2273 says there must be at least a mile and a half between wind farms and surrounding homes.

The bill offers protections that some people in Reno County say they've been fighting for for over a year.

"It's very quiet out here. We just don't have a lot of noise. These turbines when they are spinning actually produce a loud noise and in certain weather conditions they are even louder," Kristy Horsch said.

The Reno County planner says NextEra Energy Resources submitted a permit to build a wind farm in Pretty Prairie. If it's accepted, Horsch says she will see 88 turbines from her property.

Horsch says she is not the only one that will be seeing them.

"We have a beautiful skyline where you can see for miles and miles and these turbines are going to be close to 500 feet tall," Horsch said. "It is taller than any building in Sedgwick County or in Reno County and they will dominate our skyline."

Lawmakers will hear from those who support the bill on Tuesday (Feb.19) then hear from opponents on Thursday (Feb.21).