Wind farm developer addresses concerns of Reno County residents

HUTCHINSON, Kan. Thursday, April 11, 2019

A meeting about a proposed wind farm in Reno County finally came to a close Thursday evening, but without a decision from the planning commission.

Next Era, the company behind the wind farm, took to the floor on Thursday. They had an hour and a half to rebut the 15-hour public hearing that's spanned several days.

The company answered the concerns brought up by community members. In its presentation, Next Era said wind farms do not affect health. The company also said it will not build a turbine less than 2000 feet away from nearby homes while the ordinance only requires 1000 feet.

Some Reno County residents who attended Thursday's meeting say they listened closely to the rebuttal, but they haven't changed their minds.

Angela Mans lives near the proposed site of the wind farm. She brought her children to the meeting because she says she's concerned noise from a turbine would cause make them lose sleep.

"At certain times the sound is louder, and then it stops so it's not a constant noise. If it was a constant noise, we could get used to it. However, it's the variations of the noise," said Mans.

Residents say no matter what the planning commission decides, the issues had divided the community.

"The worst part about all of this is that it's tearing apart our neighborhood. People that are longtime friends, family. It's not good."

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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

A meeting that went on for seven hours in Reno County last night continues this afternoon.

The Reno County Planning Commission is getting public input on a proposed wind farm in the southeast part of the county.

The 80-turbine farm would be east of Pretty Prairie.

Supporters say it will bring jobs and money to the area, but opponents say it will hurt property value.

The meeting continues this afternoon at 4:30 at the Atrium Hotel in Hutchinson.

Watch for updates later today on Eyewitness News.
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The Reno County Planning Commission Thursday heard public input on a proposed wind farm for land in the southeast part of the county.

The Thursday afternoon-into-Thursday-night meeting provided numerous people on both sides of the argument opportunities to make their opinions heard on why a wind farm should or should not come to Reno County.

NextEra Energy Resources is the company making the proposal for an 80-turbine farm east of Pretty Prairie. NextEra says the farm would add jobs and bring millions of dollars into the local community to go toward schools, roads and first responders. It says wind energy is safe and there are no negative health effects.

Aaron Andra who lives in the proposed area for the wind farm says its benefits outweigh potential risks.

"We've had a pretty bad farm economy, and having a payment that's guaranteed every single year helps with financing at the bank and puts food on the table for our families," he says.

Others who spoke Thursday night oppose the plans, expressing concerns about the turbines' location to homes, the impact on property values, the noise and potential health issues.

Matt Amos, a veteran who lives in Reno County, says the noise generated from the turbines and the flashing lights cause him stress.

In previous meetings, the property-value concern and overall change of scenery where brought up in opposition to the proposed wind farm. From Thursday's meeting, the Reno County Planning Commission could make a recommendation on whether to grant a conditional use permit needed for construction on the project to begin.