Pratt, Kan. — Pratt County has a great potential for harnessing the wind for power, but hasn’t taken advantage.
“It’s really, really backwards to be so close to Greensburg, with all that green technology,” said Donna Wygle, a local farmer, landowner and self-described environmentalist.
In 2010 her family leased ground to BP Wind Energy for the placement of wind turbines on the farm; however this spring the Pratt County Commission passed a resolution requiring an 8-mile setback of turbines from Pratt Regional Airport. The land sits within that circle.
“No other county in the state of Kansas has anything like that restriction,” she said. “The advantages (of wind energy) are so many. We really must get away from coal and oil.”
Climate change from petroleum-generated pollution is coming, she asserted, and it will affect us all. The animals already know it; southern species like armadillos and turkey vultures now thrive in Kansas.
Ed Petrowsky turned from a wind energy proponent to an opponent.
“The fact I was going to have one (wind turbine) in my back yard got me looking and one near the airport, interfering with air safety, really got me interested.”
Wind energy is not efficient, he said, describing its abrupt changes as a nightmare for power companies. Generators must be kept on “hot standby, a high pollution mode” at all times, he explained. To produce a megawatt of power requires a megawatt of energy in the standby mode.
Petrowsky worked for a power plant in Chicago for several years before returning to Pratt County to farm. What he learned from his research supported what he had observed earlier, and what present power plant workers in Kansas confirmed.
Wind turbines interfere with agriculture, especially with aerial application of herbicides, pesticides and fungicides, he said. Another detractor is this area’s location on a major fall migratory route for whooping cranes, an endangered species.
When first approached to lease his land, Petrowsky told the company representative, “I’ll give you my ground if the first power produced stays in Pratt County. They told me ‘it ain’t gonna happen.’”